Meningitis outbreak investigation extends to North Idaho

Published On: Oct 17 2012 06:22:36 PM PDT   Updated On: Oct 17 2012 06:23:34 PM PDT
Meningitis outbreak
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

The investigation into a deadly meningitis outbreak is reaching the Inland Northwest, where more clinics in Idaho have been put on alert, including two in Coeur d'Alene.

As the Food and Drug Administration is expanding its investigation, the Department of Health is expanding the number of clinics they talk to. Two clinics in Coeur d'Alene are now contacting patients who should look out for any signs of meningitis or infection.

Health officials think epidural steroids produced by New England Compounding Center is tied to the fungal meningitis outbreak. The FDA has since expanded the number of drugs they are looking into made by the same company.

These drugs would be used during heart and eye surgery and for joint pain. While they haven't been linked to any illness, there are suspect cases.

"Out of abundance of caution any drug that's been injected they think that doctors should follow up with those patients and make sure there are no problems," Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor, said.

It's why the Idaho Health Department contacted a total of 11 clinics in the state, including North Idaho Pain Clinic and Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in Coeur d'Alene.

Like people across the nation, patients need to keep an eye out for any symptoms of infection or meningitis.

Symptoms of an infection include fever, swelling and increasing pain at the injection site. Symptoms for meningitis include headaches, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and vomiting.

Both Coeur d'Alene clinics have already contacted their patients. North Idaho Pain Center released a statement saying they've received medications from the New England Compounding Center, but they weren't from the contaminated lots.

If you think you have any of the symptoms you need to call your doctor right away.