The Arkansas Health Department is working to notify a handful of hospitals and clinics who received products from a Massachusetts company linked to a national meningitis outbreak.
“In Northwest Arkansas I don't believe we are, I don't think any of the hospitals here have the steroids from the companies that have the problem. I know our pharmacy here at Northwest Health System in Bentonville and Springdale don't have any of the tainted steroids as far as I can tell," says Jim Holden, M.D.
Hundreds became ill and more than a dozen died after contracting the disease from tainted steroid shots manufactured by the New England Compounding Center. Now, a federal investigation has been expanded to include all products manufactured by NECC.
Doctor Jim Holden with Northwest Health System says unless the steroid was directly injected into your spinal cord, you cannot get fungal meningitis.
“Unless if you've had a steroid that had the fungus in it and you got a shot in the hip you may get an infection, your hip may get sore, get a fever with an infection and not feeling well. But it will be hard for the fungus to get into your brain and get meningitis from it," says Dr. Holden.
The Arkansas Department of Health is contacting six hospitals and two clinics in the state received products made by NECC to be sure that they are not used, according to Ed Barham with the state health department.
"The recall is being done out of an abundance of caution due to conditions observed at the NECC plant,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, medical director, Communicable Diseases and Immunizations said in a news release.
None of the products distributed to any Arkansas facility has been associated with illness at this time.
“Right now, we don’t have any clear association with any human illnesses, but the FDA is taking action out of concern that there could be additional infections,” Nate Smith MD, deputy director and state epidemiologist said.
Meningitis is an inflammation or infection in the covering of the brain and the spinal cord.
"Fungal meningitis is not contagious, viral and bacterial meningitis are contagious," says Dr. Holden.
“Just so people don't worry too much about it, it’s flu season and a lot of people with the flu get body aches, you get similar symptoms to meningitis. So when people start getting a fever and start feeling like they have flu, don't automatically assume you have meningitis," explains Dr. Holden.