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Bassett Medical Center Network Addresses Meningitis Outbreak

Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Cooperstown, NY (WIBX) – A rare form of fungal meningitis found in a tainted batch of steroids has killed 12 people nationwide. But locally, Bassett Medical Center has urged its patients to remain calm.

“If you have received an epidural from anywhere in the Bassett Network, you have not been exposed to this agent.”

That was Doctor J.B. Goss, the director of Bassett Medical Center’s pharmacy. He  said that as of now, there have been no reported cases of spinal meningitis in this region.

Unlike other forms of meningitis, this version is slightly different. Michael Bartels, a clinical pharmacy specialist with infectious diseases for the Bassett Healthcare Network, explained.

“This specific case typically presents as a worsening or severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever, and possibly slurred speech, difficulty walking and urinating,” Bartels said. “But, typically, it doesn’t include the other meningitis symptoms such as neck stiffness or rigidity.”

And unlike other forms of meningitis, this particular form is not contagious.

As for the tainted methylprednisolone acetate, Goss says the Bassett Healthcare Network did not stock the steroid produced by New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, but did purchase other drugs from the company. Those particular drugs have been quarantined and are being shipped back.

Goss is also quick to remind patients that this epidural is not like those given to women for child birth.

“It has a very specific usage; it’s primarily for pain,” Goss said. “It’s not a very common procedure, but the only way to check is with your physician.”

For patients who still have treatment questions, Goss suggests he or she call their doctor.

The Bassett Healthcare Network contains Bassett Medical Center, along with other hospitals including A. O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta, Cobleskill Regional Hospital, Little Falls Hospital, O’Conner Hospital in Delhi and Tri-Town Regional Hospital in Sidney.

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