Health
4:18 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Fungal Meningitis Cases Grow in Kentucky, Tennesee, and Indiana

Health officials say they have been notified that five Kentucky residents came down with fungal meningitis after receiving medical care in Tennessee. The state Public Health Department said these cases match the pattern of an outbreak linked to injections of steroids distributed by a Massachusetts pharmacy.

The pharmacy has voluntarily recalled all its products. The health department said none of the implicated lots is known to have been distributed in Kentucky but that other medicines from the company have been sent to Kentucky facilities. Health officials recommend the products not be used for patients.

The department recommends people contact a health care provider as soon as possible if they have received epidural steroid injections since May 21 and have symptoms such as worsening headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, new weakness or numbness in any part of the body or slurred speech.

Nationally, health officials say there have been 105 cases of fungal meningitis, with eight deaths.

Here's more from a report published Monday in the Wall Street Journal:

An estimated 13,000 patients may have been exposed to the tainted spinal steroid injections which have sickened more than 100 people with fungal meningitis and killed eight, federal officials said Monday, as clinics and surgery centers continued to reach out to those who could be affected.

It was the first estimate of the potential scope of the meningitis outbreak, which has been traced by federal and state investigators to three lots of methylprednisolone acetate injections produced by New England Compounding Center. Some 105 people in nine states have been sickened by fungal meningitis, said Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan reported new cases. Tennessee—with 35 cases, the most of any state—also reported an additional death, its fourth, according to the CDC.

Investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state officials are probing the Framingham, Mass., facility where NECC made the 17,676 potentially tainted steroid injections, which were then shipped to 75 clinics in 23 states, according to federal and state officials.