4 more possible cases of meningitis in NJ

Laboratory technician Ruth Rutledge packages cerebrospinal fluid of the three confirmed meningitis cases in Minn., to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing, at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

October 13, 2012 12:56:06 PM PDT
New Jersey health officials have linked four more possible fungal meningitis cases to a nationwide outbreak caused by a potentially tainted medication.

The probable new cases announced Saturday would bring the total in the state to eight.

Among the four new cases, two are women from Salem County. One is a 37-year-old who received a steroid injection Sept. 20, while the other is a 33-year-old who got her injection July 25.

The two other new patients are a 77-year-old Atlantic County woman who received a steroid injection Aug. 22, and a 64-year-old Cumberland County man who got his injection Sept. 6.

The patients in the four other cases are all Cumberland County residents. Overall, seven of the patients remained hospitalized Saturday, while the other person was being treated as an outpatient.

Health officials say more than 600 patients in New Jersey received the steroid injection at six facilities across the state between May 21 and September 26, and nearly all of them have been notified that they may be at risk for contracting the illness.

However, it's possible that some of these people may have meningitis but not know it yet because symptoms - which include fever, headaches, neck stiffness and sensitivity to light or swelling - will usually take anywhere from one to four weeks to develop after they receive a tainted injection.

Nationwide, the drug sold by a Massachusetts-based pharmacy has been linked to 15 deaths and nearly 200 illnesses.