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Health board: Still no meningitis cases confirmed in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County health officials continue to monitor the fungal meningitis outbreak, although West Virginia has no confirmed cases.

So far, the outbreak, which has been linked to use of injected steroids distributed by the New England Compounding Center, have resulted in 451 cases of meningitis and 32 deaths, said Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology and emergency preparedness for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. Briscoe gave the update at the regular meeting of the health board Thursday afternoon.

Three of the steroid injections were recalled because of the outbreak. The company later recalled all of its products as a precaution, she said.

One clinic in Wood County received the steroid, but there have been no confirmed cases of the illness, she said.

County health officials continue to monitor the situation for updates, she said.

"In this county, we haven't had to investigate any clinic or any patient cases," Briscoe said.

In other business, the health board:

• Voted to give Health Department executive director Dr. Rahul Gupta a 5 percent merit pay raise effective on his next paycheck. The unanimous decision followed a closed session to discuss Gupta's job performance.

Gupta makes $165,000 annually. The pay increase will mean $8,250 in salary and a $1,815 increase in his benefits.

• Recognized Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper for his efforts in pushing the board to implement a new health rating system for county food establishments. Carper initially asked the board to implement a letter-grade system for ratings. The Health Department is in the midst of piloting a rating system that gives eateries a rating of excellent, good or fair, depending on the number of critical and noncritical health code violations.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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