Conemaugh Memorial Hospital reacts to local case of fungal meningitis

(WJAC-TV) One case of fungal meningitis has been confirmed in Pennsylvania after a shipment of tainted shots.

The person identified was treated at Allegheny Pain Management in Altoona.

That clinic is one of two in the state who received a shipment from the company at the center of the national outbreak.

6News talked to doctors at Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown who are reassuring patients now, more than ever, that they’re safe. 

Ten days ago: Allegheny Pain Management said it did not use any contaminated medications on patients.

Shortly after, the health department launched its own investigation, but Conemaugh Memorial Hospital is reassuring its patients that it never had any of the contaminated shots in stock.

The numbers are staggering nationwide: 214 infected and 15 killed.

Here at home, the Department of Health is announcing its one and only confirmed case of fungal meningitis in Pennsylvania.

“Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which is the covering to your brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Daniel Wehner said.

Dr. Wehner is used to seeing bacterial meningitis where symptoms are clear cut, but with fungal meningitis it may not be as easy to detect right away.

“[It’s] a little bit different, in that it doesn’t normally cause meningitis in people because it doesn’t normally get into their meninges,” he explained.

He said those threatened with infection should have only received an epidural or a steroid shot to the joint.

Conemaugh Health System is reassuring patients that it did not receive any steroid shots from the New England Compounding Center.

“If anybody had any epidural injections or joint injections through Conemaugh Health System, they’re safe because we did not use any of those three lots,” Wehner said.

The only cause for concern should come right from your doctor.

“And your healthcare provider should have notified you by now. If you’ve had an epidural injection of a steroid, you may want to contact your provider just in case… just to be sure it wasn’t one of those three lots; but if it isn’t one of those three lots, it’s much, much, much more likely than not you have nothing to worry about,” Wehner said.

If you know someone who may be battling the infection, rest assured because medical experts confirm that you can’t contract it by contact.

“If you touch, or kiss, or take care of somebody that has this fungal meningitis… you’re not going to get it. So, it’s not contagious from person to person,” Wehner said.

The Food and Drug Administration is reaching out to doctors who used any medication produced by the New England Compounding Center for the potential risk of infection.

There have not been any other reported issues with any other product, yet.