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Meningitis Outbreak Reaches Gainesville

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Nov 28, 2012 5:18:00 AM

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is currently fighting to stop the spread of a rare but serious form of fungal meningitis. The outbreak began in Atlanta and has spread across a number of different states, eventually reaching the borders of the Gainesville Florida area.

So far, reports show that this outbreak of meningitis has affected an approximate total of 200 people across 14 different states. So far 15 deaths have been reported. Health officials and scientists are working diligently to see to it that the spread of the disease is halted as soon as possible and that the sick are treated and nursed back to health.

A Closer Look at This Strain of Meningitis

Many strains of meningitis are highly contagious, but this particular strain is not. It doesn’t spread between people, according to health authorities who are looking into the causes behind the outbreak. Instead, the illnesses are thought to have been caused by use of a contaminated supply of steroidal medication. The steroid in question is produced by the New England Compounding Center located in Framingham, Massachusetts.

In typical cases of meningitis, it’s a bacterium to blame for the infection. As the bacteria multiply in the infected person’s system, severe inflammation of the brain’s surrounding membranes occurs. This can lead to intense swelling and severe symptoms that can inflict pressure on the brain itself, often leading to very serious complications including death if not treated effectively and in a timely manner.

This particular outbreak of meningitis covers new ground previously unseen, as it’s caused by a form of fungus normally found in grass or dirt outdoors. In fact, this fungus is quite common. People come in contact with it on a very regular basis and it has not been identified as a possible cause of meningitis in the past.

“This is a very unusual infection,” Dr. John Jernigan, a top epidemiologist of the CDC was quoted as saying in response to the outbreak. "So, treatment recommendations, diagnostic recommendations are all going to be new, and we're learning as we go on this one." Dr. Jernigan is the individual who has been responsible for leading the investigation behind the ongoing medical response and call to action.

Currently, health officials fighting the outbreak believe that they have managed to successfully reach upwards of 90% of those affected or potentially affected. Total containment of the issue is estimated to be achieved soon.


Topics: Personal Injury