Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of what caused 11 people who visited the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, Tennessee, to become infected with a very rare form of meningitis. For now it's believed the fungal meningitis may have been spread through a steroid medication injection, but nothing has been determined for sure.
Since Sept. 20 the Nashville-based center has been closed as experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work with the Tennessee Department of Health to figure out how the fungal meningitis was even able to penetrate through safeguards that are put in place to prevent these types of infections.
When looking at this type of disease, the big mystery is how Aspergillus, which is a mold commonly found outside, was able to get inside of patients' brains.
So far, across the country, there have been a total of 12 people to be infected with this rare form of meningitis. The 12th person was someone outside of Tennessee, but who also received the same injection.
John Dreyzehner, who is the state health commissioner, said it's believed that these types of steroid injections could have been shipped out to facilities in more than a dozen states, which means there could be even more cases of this rare meningitis. If this is the case, the maker of the solution could end up facing product liability claims.
Since the possible correlation was found between the injection and the disease, the maker of the steroid solution has issued a recall. However, the CDC will not name the drug or the company, claiming this could lead to bias or could negatively affect the current ongoing investigation.
Common symptoms of infection include slurred speech, headaches, fever and numbness. Steroids and antifungals are the typical treatment options.
Looking to the future, we will continue to provide updates on this fungal meningitis investigation.