The CDC and FDA have confirmed a rare form of meningitis is plaguing back pain patients in 6 states, and could infect more over the next several weeks. Fungal meningitis has already been linked to 35 cases and has resulted in 5 deaths. It has been determined that the outbreak of meningitis is linked to steroid injections for back pain
. The steroid called methylprednisolone acetate , manufactured by New England Compounding Center, was delivered to 23 states between July and September. The pharmacy has already recalled 3 lots (17,676 vials) of the steroid, but given the 2-28 day incubation period of the fungal infection, the recall may have came too late. Meningitis is an infection that causes swelling of the meninges, which are the protective membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cords. This particular strain is a very rare, and hard to treat strain called aspergillus meningitis. Symptoms include severe headaches, fever, dizziness, nausea, and slurred speech. Fortunately, this type of meningitis is not spread person-to-person, limiting the out break o only those who has spinal injections. The course of treatment includes a high-dose of antifungal medications
, given only in the hospital by IV. Currently there are 35 reported cases, all related to steroid injections. 5 of these reported cases have ended fatally. Most patients who have contracted the disease are elderly. Due to the use of the steroid medication, many who are sick will be in the older age range. The 23 states that may have received tainted steroids include:California Illinois North Carolina Ohio Texas Connecticut Indiana New Hampshire Pennsylvania Virginia Florida Maryland New Jersey Rhode Island West Virginia Georgia Michigan Nevada South Carolina Idaho Minnesota New York Tennessee If you are a back pain patient receiving steroid injections for pain relief, check with your doctor immediately. Due to the severity of the fungal infection, early detection offers the best chance of treatment. Health agencies have advised healthcare professionals to discontinue use of any drugs from this pharmacy.
Sources: CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57526249/meningitis-outbreak-may-affect-more-than-23-states/ ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/rare-fungal-meningitis-outbreak-grows-dead-22-sick/story?id=17395587#.UG7vDFHX7IU ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/rare-meningitis-cases-26-states-deaths-17392785#.UG7usFHX7IU Bloomberg Businessweek: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-05/meningitis-outbreak-linked-to-steroid-kills-five-people