The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 105 cases of fungal meningitis, in nine states across the US, have been linked to an outbreak resulting from contaminated steroid medication. To date, eight deaths have been associated with the outbreak.
As many as 13,000 patients may be at risk after having received an injection of the steroid. The injection is typically used to treat back pain.
The steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, was manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. More than 17,000 single-dose vials of the steroid have been recalled. The company has also voluntarily ceased operations and has recalled all products manufactured and distributed from its Framingham facility. NECC is one of thousands that repackages or recombines medications. This is often done without regulation or supervision.
According to the CDC, the steroid has been shipped to facilities in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The more common strain of meningitis is caused by bacteria or a virus. Fungal meningitis is rare, and is not contagious.