After spreading across the nation, fungal Meningitis has found its way to Pennsylvania.
Kait Gillis, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said fungal meningitis has been linked to two health clinics in Pennsylvania.
The meningitis was found at Allegheny Pain Management in Altoona, and the cause was found to be a contaminated steroid shot, which was possibly administered in July, Gillis said.
No illness has been reported at the South Hills Pain and Rehabilitation Associations in Jefferson Hills, Bethel Park, Monessen and Brentwood., she said. These locations also administered the contaminated steroid shots, she said.
Anyone who could have been infected has been contacted already, Gillis said.
“[The meningitis] was found in steroid shots that are used for chronic pain,” Gillis said. “Unless a student received this injection they are at no risk whatsoever.”
Fungal meningitis is a very unique form of meningitis that is not contagious, she said.
Meningitis symptoms include headache, fever, slurred speech, balance difficulty, stroke and in serious cases even death, she said.
“It’s so unique that we’re not sure of the incubation period, but the only [infected person] last received the shot in July,” Gillis said.
Beth Blew, marketing manager for Penn State’s University Health Services, said students are vaccinated for bacterial meningitis before they come to campus.
The fungal meningitis is not the bacterial meningitis that is usually found on campus — there are several types of meningitis, she said.
“Any meningitis is potentially life threatening because it affects the spinal chord and the brain,” Blew said. “The meningitis in the news is related to pharmaceuticals and is linked to specific drugs.”
Blew said that since the need for getting the steroid shots is pretty remote, students should not worry about a fungal meningitis infection.
Fifteen people across the country have died because of tainted steroid shots taken to relieve back pain. The original contamination was traced back to a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts that has been recalled.
More than 200 people have been sickened, and Pennsylvania is the 15th state to report a case of meningitis outbreak.
The Associated Press contributed to this report