Many South Florida doctors are fielding questions from patients concerned about their risk of contracting meningitis amid the current outbreak.
Dr. Ariel Soffer with the Soffer Health Institute said people first need to know some basics about meningitis.
"Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues that surround the spinal cord and brain. What we are seeing in the news now Is meningitis caused by mold in steroid injections that were given for pain in the back or neck commonly called epidurals.
Thousands have been exposed and dozens have already died," said Soffer. "There are two types of meningitis. One that can rapidly kill you and another that is uncomfortable but benign. In 2005, Brad Pitt famously had the benign type that feels like a bad headache and it usually goes away on its own. The other type of meningitis, like the one we are seeing is often deadly, gets progressively worse and needs immediate medical attention," he added.
So, who really needs to be concerned about this latest outbreak and what should they be aware of?
"The current type of meningitis affecting our area hits only certain types of people. You must have had a back or neck steroid injection after May 21st 2012 and it must be part of a batch that has been identified from Massachusetts. Call your doctor to find out where your shot came from or check the centers for disease control website for a list of clinicians that might have used the tainted solutions," said Soffer.
Symptoms of infection include stiff neck, fever, headache nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and increased pain or redness at the injection site.
"If you then think you might be at risk you should see immediate medical attention. Your doctor can make the diagnosis with with a spinal tap which is a small needle that pulls out a bit of fluid from the spinal column. There are vaccines for other forms of meningitis, so you might want to take this moment to talk to your doctor about updating your family's vaccinations." said Soffer.
To reach the Soffer Health Institute call: 305-792-0555.