You’ve probably been hearing about the fungal meningitis outbreak, and if you haven’t yet, let me fill you in. A compounding center out of Framingham, Massachusetts distributed a steroid, primarily meant for injection in patients suffering from back or joint pain, to twenty-three states, Michigan included. It has since been discovered that this steroid is contaminated with Exserohilum rostratum, a fungus. Some people that received the steroid injection via epidural to relieve back pain have now been diagnosed with fungal meningitis – which is essentially the inflammation of the meninges that surround the spinal cord and brain.
In Michigan, forty nine people that received the injection have been infected, forty-five of them with fungal meningitis. Four people have died in this state, out of twenty nation-wide.
Learning about this outbreak has given me some serious chills. It reminds me of science fiction theory classes I had in college, where the underlying analysis of many sci-fi classics pointed back to literal outbreaks like the one we’re seeing today. I can’t help but think of “Alien,” a Ridley Scott film that showcases how one organism can grow inside of a human being and potentially wreak havoc on a community. There was also episodes of “The X-files”, and “Fringe” that dramatized the affects of fungal spores being inhaled by standers-by. Needless to say, those characters met a nasty end.
It is very interesting how science fiction becomes real in a sense. Back in the fifties, nobody ever thought there would be talking robots or flying cars, but they existed on-screen, and yes, now in real life. They’re not just movies, they’re representations of human fear or fascination.
Before you worry or run to get that check-up, you should know that this particular case is not contagious. Unless you received a steroid injection from May to the beginning of October from the sites listed on the Center for Disease Control website (CDC), you are not going to contract fungal meningitis. Please visit this link http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/meningitis.html for more information.