Deadly Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Widens
As many as 13,000 patients could be at risk of developing a rare form of meningitis that has already claimed the lives of eight people and infected at least 105 others in a fast-growing outbreak that may be linked to contaminated steroid injections for back pain.
Cases of infections and deaths connected with the outbreak of fungal meningitis have been discovered in nine states and federal health officials expect that number to rise, according to NBC News.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, earlier than first reported. The CDC is investigating all medications and products that are associated with this outbreak. Although there is not enough evidence yet to nail down the source of the outbreak, there is a link to an injectable steroid medication called methylprednisolone acetate that has been traced to the New England Compounding Center (NECC), a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.
NECC is cooperating with federal officials and has voluntarily handed over its license, stopped operations, and recalled all steroids and other drugs compounded and distributed from its Massachusetts facility, according to the NBC News.
Health care facilities that received products from the company are: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and West Virginia.
NBC News reports that infections were confirmed in Tennessee (35 cases, 4 deaths), Virginia (23 cases, 1 death), Michigan (21 cases, 2 deaths), Indiana (11 cases), Maryland (5 cases, 1 death), Florida (4 cases), Minnesota (3 cases), North Carolina (2 cases), and Ohio (1 case).
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include headache, fever, nausea, and neck stiffness. People with fungal meningitis may also experience confusion, dizziness, and discomfort from bright lights, says the CDC.
Health officials note that fungal meningitis is not contagious.