SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Two Minnesotans have been linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
Fungal meningitis has officially been diagnosed in two Minnesota women in their 40's who received injectable steroids.
State health officials are now trying to find other people who may have been injected with the tainted batch of drugs that has already been linked to at least seven deaths nationwide.
The Minnesota Department of Health is working overtime this weekend contacting approximately 950 people who may have been injected with a tainted batch of steroids, exposing them to the rare and deadly, fungal meningitis.
Buddy Ferguson, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said, "We have a number of volunteers who are going down the list of patients who received the implicated product."
The steroids, methyl prednisone acetate, used to treat pain, were mixed at a Massachusetts pharmacy called the New England Compounding Center. The drugs have been recalled and the pharmacy temporarily closed.
The fungal meningitis has killed at least seven people and sickened more than 60 others in the U.S., including the two Minnesota women.
Ferguson said, "Neither of them appears to be severely ill, they are both women in their 40's." He continued, "They were both hospitalized they're both receiving treatment with antibiotics and antifungals."
The two Minnesota medical providers who used the drug, Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) and Minnesota Surgery Center are working with the department of health to contact their patients.
Ferguson said on Saturday, "We have gone through about a third of the list as of this morning we hope to be done by tomorrow evening."
He said while fungal meningitis is not contagious, it can be deadly. So he said it's important anyone who had the implicated steroid injections between July and September, who has even minor symptoms, see a medical provider.
According to MDH, symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, fever and even stroke symptoms like weakness and difficulty speaking.
Ferguson said, "It can be a very severe life-threatening disease we don't want to fool around with it at all."
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