Oakwood patients not at risk from Meningitis outbreak

Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. (OHI) has not and does not stock the steroid linked to a recent nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis, officials from the health system said today.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as of Oct. 9, 119 cases and 11 deaths have been reported from 10 states and have been linked to a steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, that had been sold under the name Depo-Medrol and distributed by The New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham Mass. There have been 11 deaths, including three in Michigan. The medication has since been recalled and all clinics have been advised to stop using it, according to the company’s web site. Four facilities in Michigan reportedly received the suspect steroids, but none of them is affiliated with the Oakwood Healthcare system.

Methylprednisolone acetate is steroid administered through an epidural injection and most commonly used to treat pain and swelling that occurs with arthritis and other joint disorders.

“We at Oakwood do not use that medication. Our patients have nothing to fear from these reports,” said Paolo Marciano, MD, an Oakwood-affiliated interventional radiologist. Oakwood’s drug of choice for epidural injection is triamcinolone acetonide, which has been demonstrated to be safe and effective for spinal injections, according to American Journal of Roentgenology.

“Patients should have no concern about getting their care in the Oakwood Healthcare System,” said David Batkie, director of pharmaceutical services for Oakwood Healthcare. “We take precautions to ensure our medicines are safe.”

Fungal meningitis is not contagious. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light.