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Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - MEDIA STATEMENT: SJH Response to Recall of Medication Linked to Meningitis October 10

Today, the New Jersey Department of Health is reporting to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) its second case linked to an ongoing, multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis associated with potentially contaminated steroid medication.

A 57-year-old Cumberland County man is hospitalized at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland with presumptive fungal meningitis. He is recovering and receiving intravenous anti-fungal medication. He received a spinal injection on July 12 at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center from one of the lots recalled on September 26 by New England Compounding Center (NECC) located in Framingham, Mass. Two to three weeks later, he began having headaches. He was contacted by South Jersey Healthcare over the weekend as part of its patient notification and was evaluated at the hospital’s clinic Monday with a worsening headache, stiff neck and increased sensitivity to light. He was sent to the hospital’s Emergency Department for further testing and was admitted on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a 70-year-old Cumberland County man, hospitalized with presumptive fungal meningitis, was identified as the first case in New Jersey. He also is receiving intravenous anti-fungal medication and recovering in the hospital.

South Jersey Healthcare is working with the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health, along with our county departments of health, to monitor and care for any patients who are being evaluated or who have been identified by the Department of Health as having presumptive fungal meningitis.

Under patient privacy laws, we cannot provide any further details at this time about any specific patient. However, we will continue to partner with the CDC and Department of Health to continue monitoring these patients and provide updates as appropriate.

Since the medication was recalled and removed from our hospitals on September 26, SJH has worked with the local health departments to reach out to all patients who received it. Special clinics were also offered at the SJH Regional Medical Center for patients to receive a medical evaluation from an infectious disease physician. Through Monday, 102 patients were seen in these clinics, with 17 of those patients being referred for testing to rule out meningitis.

During this situation, we have worked closely with our partners at the County, City of Vineland and New Jersey departments of health. Because this is a public health issue, we are collaborating with the state health department and CDC, and therefore we will continue to follow their lead on the release of any further specific details.

SJH is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of southern New Jersey residents.