WBUR

Four Ill As Meningitis Outbreak Spreads To N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said four people are suffering from a rare form of fungal meningitis linked to a Massachusetts company. In a statement Saturday, health officials said the patients, three men and a woman, are between the ages of 40 and 60 and receiving treatment.

“In general, we believe that they will be able to recover,” said New Hampshire Public Health Director Jose Montero. “But, as this disease has been showing in other states, it can be quite unpredictable.”

The outbreak has been traced to steroid injections produced at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham. The specialty pharmacy has shut down operations and recalled all of its products. All but one of the 197 patients nationwide received the injections for back pain. Fifteen people have died.

In New Hampshire, the medication was distributed to the Somersworth, Merrimack and Newington locations of Pain Care LLC. The state Division of Public Health Services says the company has identified 741 patients who may have been exposed to the steroid injections, and is notifying them.

“Some people have minor symptoms, headaches and fever, or even nausea,” Montero said. “But then we have people who are having strokes, or the whole-blown meningitis. People whose immune system is fully working seldom get this type of infection. Those are more regularly seen in people who have problems with their immune systems.”

The steroids were also sent to doctors in Connecticut and Rhode Island. No cases of the illness have been reported in either state.

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