Meningitis death toll rises to 6 in Michigan; most recent two deaths occurred at St. Joseph Mercy hospital
A sixth Michigan resident has died in a meningitis outbreak linked to recalled injectable steroids contaminated with fungus, health officials announced Friday.
According to data released from the Michigan Department of Community Health, the death is of a 79-year-old woman from Oakland County.
The fungal meningitis cases have been linked to steroids administered as injections for back and joint pain that were manufactured by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. -- a company that is currently under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital has announced that the most recent two deaths reported by state health officials were of patients that were actively being treated at their facility this week. Hospital officials would not confirm the identity of the patient deaths.
The total number of St. Joseph Mercy patients that have died in the nationwide outbreak is now three, as a patient that was discharged from the hospital before the CDC investigation into the steroids began died in hospice care, officials said Oct. 9.
The state health department reported Oct. 9 that a 78-year-old Washtenaw County woman died from fungal meningitis, but hospital officials could not confirm if that was the same individual.
As of Friday in Michigan, 53 cases associated with the fungal meningitis outbreak had been confirmed — an increase of four cases from Thursday.
Of those 53 cases, 48 of them are from St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. Of the 48, 47 are confirmed cases of fungal meningitis and one is a patient with a joint infected with fungus. About half of those patients have been discharged, according to hospital officials.
The University of Michigan Health System has had two confirmed cases of fungal meningitis associated with the outbreak. One was a patient that was discharged this week, and the other was a patient who died in late September, hospital officials said.
The Michigan Department of Community Health and the CDC have reported five Michigan fatalities from the fungal meningitis outbreak as of Friday.
All five of the fatalities were patients that received injections at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, according to a company-issued statement.
“Dr. John Chatas of Michigan Pain Specialists said that he is saddened to learn that the two additional patients reported to have died in the past two days had received injections at the Brighton clinic,” according to a statement from Michigan Pain Specialists.
An additional Michigan resident — a Cass County woman — also died of fungal meningitis. Health officials are not including her death in the overall case count for Michigan because she received the injectable steroid treatment at a facility in Indiana.
Michigan Pain Specialists was one of four facilities in Michigan that received shipments of the injectable steroids manufactured by NECC that were subject to recall by the CDC.
The University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor did not use the steroids manufactured by NECC, hospital officials have reported.
Several doctors that practice at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor also privately practice at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton.
The most important factor determining who gets sick seems to be how much fungus was contaminating a vial of medication, the Associated Press reported.
Sixteen states have confirmed cases of fungal meningitis, as the overall case count rose again Friday to 271 cases and 21 deaths — an increase of 14 cases and one death from Thursday.
Michigan has the second-highest number of cases and deaths in the nation, while Tennessee — the state that first identified cases in the outbreak — has the largest number of patients with 66 cases and 8 deaths as of Friday afternoon.