PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 12, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

NJ Reports Two Additional Cases Associated With Potentially Contaminated Steroid Medication

Today, the New Jersey Department of Health is reporting to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) two new cases-for a total of 4-linked to an ongoing, multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis associated with potentially contaminated steroid medication.

All four patients are Cumberland County residents. Three are hospitalized and recovering in South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center at Vineland and a fourth is being monitored by the hospital as an outpatient. The three hospitalized patients are being treated intravenously with anti-fungal medication after receiving a steroid injection from one of the lots of medication recalled by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts. The company has suspended its operations.

The two new cases include a 59-year-old man who received an injection on September 12 at Premier Orthopaedic Associates in Vineland and was admitted to South Jersey Regional Medical Center, Vineland on Oct. 9 with headaches and fever.  The fourth patient is a 52-year-old female who received an injection in August at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center. She visited the Emergency Department on October 9 with headaches and back and neck pain and is being closely monitored as an outpatient by the hospital.

In New Jersey, the investigation affects 634 patients who received a steroid injection at one of six health care facilities between May 21 and September 26. The facilities are:

  • Central Jersey Orthopedics Specialists, PC in South Plainfield
  • Edison Surgical Center, Edison
  • IF Pain Associates/Isaiah Florence, Teaneck
  • Premier Orthopaedic Associates, Vineland
  • Comprehensive Pain Management, Sparta
  • South Jersey Healthcare, Elmer and Vineland

"Nearly all of the 634 New Jersey residents who received potentially contaminated injections at one of six health care facilities have been notified, but any patient who has had a steroid injection and is experiencing symptoms should call their health care provider immediately," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd.

South Jersey Healthcare Home Health nurses have partnered with the Cumberland and Salem County Health Departments to make home visits to affected patients whom they have been unable to reach by phone. The region includes a large population of migrant workers. 

"Doctors and patients will need to be vigilant for several months because fungal infections can be slow to develop. It may take one to four weeks or longer for patients to exhibit symptoms," said Commissioner O'Dowd said.

Symptoms include new or worsening headache, fever, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light or redness, soreness or swelling at the injection site should contact the facility that administered the injection or a health care provider immediately. Nationally, some patients have also experienced stroke symptoms including localized weakness (on one side of the face, drooping face), numbness or slurred speech.

Nationally, a total of 169 cases-including 14 deaths-have been reported by 11 states.

According to the CDC, the form of fungal meningitis that has been identified is not contagious, meaning it is not spread from person to person. The source of the fungus  and cause of the cause of infection is still under investigation by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additional information about the outbreak is available on the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/meningitis.html