Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Five Deaths
An outbreak of fungal meningitis has sickened more than 30 people and proved fatal for five.
According to NBC News, the outbreak is linked to spinal steroid injections for back pain but health officials are also looking at antiseptics and pain medications used during such procedures.
Patients who received the lumbar epidural steroid injections between July 30 and September 20 may be at risk of developing aspergillus meningitis infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cases of the rare infection were reported in Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina and the outbreak is expected to keep growing.
Aspergillus is a mold and aspergillus meningitis is an infection that attacks the central nervous system. The common symptoms are headache, stiff neck, dizziness, and balance problems. Anyone with those symptoms should contact their physician immediately.
Fungal meningitis is different from viral or bacterial forms and it is not contagious.
NBC News reports that all the victims were undergoing treatment for musculoskeletal disorders when they received the epidural injections.
Health officials have determined that a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy, New England Compounding Center, is the likely source of the outbreak. The company voluntarily recalled all of the product, stopped operations, and is cooperating with federal officials, according to NBC News.
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