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First Fungal Meningitis Case Reported in South Jersey

Two of the central New Jersey medical outlets that dispensed the contaminated steroid report no cases of the deadly disease.

One of the 650 patients in New Jersey who received injections of a tainted steroid drug that has killed 11 patients in nine states has developed deadly fungal meningitis.

The NJ Department of Health reported that the 70-year-old man, a Cumberland County resident, was hospitalized at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center at Vineland after complaining of fever and headaches. So far, there is no news on the man's condition.

The announcement was the first fungal meningitis case in New Jersey linked to the contaminated vials. So far, 119 people have become infected 10 of the 23 states where the drug was dispensed, now including New Jersey, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said.

Seven medical facilities in New Jersey received vials of the drug methylprednisolone acetate, which was made by New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which the CDC said was used from May until September 25 when it was recalled. The steroid is used to treat pain and swelling associated with arthritis and other joint disorders, along with a host of other ailments, according to WebMD.

The Vineland man received the injection from Premier Orthopedics Surgical Associates in Vineland on September 26, said Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the NJ Department of Health.

Of the seven medical sites in New Jersey that administered the contaminated drug, two are in the central New Jersey area: Central Jersey Orthopedic Specialists in South Plainfield, and Edison Surgical Center in Edison.

Sixty-five vials of the tainted steroid were delivered to the Edison Surgical Center, said a nurse manager who would not give her name.

All 65 were used, she said, and all patients who were given the drug have been notified.

"We're cooperating with the Department of Health and the CDC," she said.

When asked if any of the affected patients had exhibited any symptoms of fungal menigitis, she said, "Everyone's got symptoms. We tell them to go to their medical doctor."

A spokeswoman at Central Jersey Orthopedic, who refused to give her name, said that they "only had five patients" who had received the injections.

"They didn't get it in the spine. You can't get it if you don't get it in the spine," she said. All five, the woman added, are "being monitored" and do not show any signs of infection.

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