2 dead from meningitis outbreak at Tennessee neurosurgery center

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate a cluster of meningitis cases, which have been linked to the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, The Tennessean reported.

According to a statement from the TDH, of the 11 patients who have been affected, two have died.

The agency said this form of meningitis does not spread from person to person; however, the cause for the illnesses is still unknown.

The neurosurgical center was closed on Sept. 20 and will not open until both the TDH and CDC have resolved the matter.  Patients of the center who had lumbar epidural steroid injections between July 30 and Sept. 20 have been notified of the cluster, according to a TDH statement.

“We are extremely saddened by the impact this tragic situation has had on patients and their loved ones, and we are working quickly to get answers,” TDH Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner said in a statement. “As we continue our investigation, we will remain as transparent as possible, providing information to the people of Tennessee, and to our partners and allies in the health and medical communities.”

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According to the National Institutes of Health, meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes that cover both the brain and spinal cord.  Symptoms include fever, mental changes, nausea and severe headaches, while more severe symptoms can include decreased consciousness and unusual posture.  Acute bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.

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