Oklahoma spared in fungal meningitis outbreak

TULSA - An outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid shots for back or neck pain has killed 12 people. More than 130 cases have been confirmed across the country.

Here in Oklahoma, some clinics are getting a lot of questions from concerned patients.

2NEWS checked in with doctors and found Oklahoma may be spared from the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked the contaminated medication, and maps show Texas is the closest state to Oklahoma it was shipped to.



The CDC warns some patients who received a steroid injection between May and September may have been injected with a contaminated formula.

"My feeling is that there was contamination in the process of development," said Dr. Raymond F. Sorensen with the Pain Institute of Tulsa.

Sorensen says there are no reported cases in the state. The CDC reports 23 states received the contaminated product from Massachusetts.

Confirmed cases of fungal meningitis have been found in 10 states.


"Looking at what we use, where we got them from, not long ago, we've had an evaluation. I'm not concerned," he said.

Sorensen, and other clinics 2NEWS checked with, say Oklahoma shouldn't be affected. Doctors say complications with steroid shot formulas are very rare.

Infected patients report mild symptoms, starting from one to four weeks after their injection. According to the CDC, those include weakness, back pain, mild headaches and numbness.

Despite the outbreak, doctors say these types of injections are safe.

"Can they be appropriate? Yes. Should it be evaluated each and every time? Yes," Sorensen said.

The CDC says as many as 13,000 people may have been given injections with steroids from the contaminated medication.

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