Reporting Lauren Leamanczyk
SOMERSWORTH, NH (CBS) -The number of people in New Hampshire exposed to a tainted steroid linked to a meningitis outbreak has risen.
Tuesday, health officials announced that 742 people in the state had been injected with the steroid at three Pain Care, LLC locations.
Previously, the company had identified around 200 people who had received epidural injections of the steroid at their Somersworth and Merrimack locations. Now they are also contacting hundreds more patients who received non-epidural doses of the painkiller. Some received the treatment at a third Pain Care clinic in Newington.
Jacki Lavoie Staples underwent a spinal tap Tuesday evening to find out if she is a victim the nationwide meningitis outbreak.
‘I would like to know if I have spinal meningitis or not and I don’t think I do,” she told WBZ-TV. “The waiting and not knowing is the hardest part,” said her husband Wayne Staples.
Jacki learned last week that she had been given epidural injections of the contaminated steroids. The drug has now been linked to 119 cases of meningitis and 11 deaths. The drugs were manufactured at New England Compounding Center in Framingham.
Pain Care’s director, Tom Barnes says this new batch of patients did not receive the epidural. But they did receive the same drug in other forms like knee and joint injections.
“Although they are not at risk for meningitis, they are at risk for local infection,” Barnes explained.
There is no history of people who did not receive the epidural form contracting illness. Still, Barnes said they want to use an abundance of caution.
“You want to catch things as soon as possible so they’re monitoring everyone who has been exposed to the steroid.”
NECC has been under intense scrutiny as the death toll from their steroids continues to rise. Questions are being asked by federal and state investigators and by thousands of patients now living in fear.
“I think about the people who died and their families and I just think how could it have been avoided,” Jacki said.
So far no one in New Hampshire has tested positive for fungal meningitis.