CDC: 110 sick, 11 dead in fungal meningitis outbreak

There are now 110 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis that have been linked to a contaminated steroid injection given in the treatment of back pain.

According to a update on the growing outbreak of fungal meningitis across the country, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated figures they gave late last week, adding 14 more cases. That includes four more patient deaths, bringing that total to 11.

The outbreak has been linked to a single source, a contaminated epidural steroid injection commonly delivered to relieve back pain and inflammation. The injectable drug, methylprednisolone acetate, was compounded, manufactured, and distributed from New England Compounding Center, from Framingham, Mass.

Since the outbreak has been linked to this single company, specifically three Lots of the drug distributed to pain management clinics and other health care facilities in at least 30 states, the company has recalled the affected Lots and has since expanded the recall to include all products it manufactures and distributes from that facility. NECC has also ceased all operations since earlier this month.

Wall Street Journal reports that victims have been identified in 10 states but as many as 13,000 people could have received the tainted methylprednisolone acetate injection. Victims thus far have been identified in Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and most recently New Jersey. Officials with the CDC said a “majority” of people injected with the drug from NECC did not suffer any symptoms common with fungal meningitis.

Those who may have received a methylprednisolone acetate injection between July and September of this year should be alert for signs of a meningitis infection. Early symptoms include a rising fever and a worsening headache that leads to nausea. A more serious neurological symptom is likely a sign of more serious trouble.

NECC and public health officials are continuing to investigate a possible source of the contamination after a Food and Drug Administration investigation determined that sample vials of unused drugs were positive for the presence of a fungus that’s believed to be responsible for the outbreak of fungal meningitis.

Officials seem convinced the amount of people who may yet become infected with fungal meningitis in connection with this specific outbreak to rise. Symptoms take up to a month to develop in some victims and federal officials were quick to update the total affected with the infection from 91 on Friday to 110 by Tuesday. will continue to bring the latest information on the fungal meningitis outbreak as developments warrant.

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