Two years after it was first detected in a Brooklyn neighborhood, there have been two new outbreaks of fungal meningitis in the borough, New York City health officials have said.
Nassau County, Long Island, reported on Tuesday that a patient had been diagnosed with meningitis in December, as part of the outbreak that has killed 25. It’s suspected that both cases were caused by fungal meningitis.
The investigation has begun in Queens, according to New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.
The two diagnoses have prompted officials to raise the alarm again.
“We urge New Yorkers with an infection that is fatal or seems to develop complications in other places to seek medical care immediately,” Zucker said on Thursday.
To date, an additional 8,536 cases of fungal meningitis have been reported in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The disease has been linked to tainted steroid injections administered to cancer patients and caused the deaths of at least 25 people.
Inspectors are releasing fluid samples from seven New York City hospitals where the outbreak has taken place and found the fluids to be high in the presence of the bacteria.
The concern, it is believed, is that tainted pills may have been circulated from one New York City hospital to another.
Scientists have become increasingly concerned in recent years about the spread of fungal meningitis, which causes swelling of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Last fall, New York health officials recommended that anyone visiting a hospital or doctor’s office with patients who fell ill be tested for the disease.
Infected patients are then screened for fever, headache, nausea, pain and fatigue, the New York Department of Health said.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was also reportedly testing people who received an injection in an unnamed hospital, which would have involved 400 patients, to find all of those with meningitis.