Two Dozen Suspected Meningitis Cases Reported in Va.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia is reporting 24 cases of suspected meningitis among nearly 700 back pain patients who received steroid shots that may have been contaminated with a potentially deadly fungus.
Three of the 24 are West Virginia residents who received the pain treatment in Virginia.
Public health officials said Tuesday 689 people received back pain shots at two clinics - one in Roanoke, the other in Christiansburg. Officials are still attempting to reach out to everyone who received the possibly tainted shots.
Of the 24 suspected cases reported so far, one person has died. The state reported five suspected cases last week.
The number of people sickened in the national outbreak now tops 100. Deaths have risen to eight.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- In West Virginia, 220 people received steroid injections at the Pars Pain Clinic in Parkersburg -- shots that also came from that tainted batch. One of those patients is now suffering from a suspected case of meningitis.
We talked with her Tuesday from her hospital bed at the Cleveland Clinic where she's undergoing intensive treatment.
“I'm feeling better today with the antibiotic they've been giving me,” Paula Cunningham said.
The normally vibrant Cunningham is just thankful to be alive, and she graciously agreed to talk with us.
“I'm just weak, frustrated and aggravated,” she said.
Aggravated because Paula is one of 220 people in West Virginia and one of 13,000 nationwide who got a steroid injection for pain management from a tainted batch. That batch was produced by the New England Compounding Pharmacy in Massachusetts.
Cunningham had taken steroid injections at a Parkersburg pain clinic for about a year to manage pain in her neck and back from a work accident. But, then the clinic told her about a month ago her most recent injection came from that deadly tainted batch.
“Oh my God. How could that happen?” Cunningham said.
Her daughter, Katlin Clarke, is devastated -- the images of her mother's suffering disturbing.
“She progressively got worse, started vomiting, couldn't keep down her food, couldn't eat," Clarke said. "She had these awful headaches, couldn't touch her head or her neck or move.”
Since being transferred from a local hospital to the Cleveland Clinic where she's under the care of specialists, Cunningham is improving.
“What does your mom mean to you?” WSAZ.com’s Carrie Cline asked Clarke.
“Everything. I couldn't imagine not having her around," she replied. "On top of that, I'd like for her to see the baby that's due in a couple months, and I couldn't imagine losing her.”
Cunningham's test results are still pending. The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health says there are currently no cases of confirmed meningitis.
But, since this is an ongoing, constantly changing situation, that number could change as test results do come back.