Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Hitting Tennessee at Twice the Rate of National Average

Dec 20, 2012

The recent national outbreak of fungal meningitis has taken an especially strong toll on Tennessee. Despite the fact that other states reported more exposures to tainted steroid shots, only one state has a higher meningitis attack rate than Tennessee.

The fungal meningitis outbreak has been traced back to tainted steroid shots produced at a compounding center in Massachusetts.

An article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a wide variation in the rate of meningitis infections in states that received shipments of the tainted medicine. Tennessee has the second highest attack rate in the nation, with 10.9 infections per 100 people.

Only Michigan has a higher attack rate.

The rate of attack in Tennessee is more than double the national average, and is over four times the attack rate seen in Maryland—that, despite the fact more Maryland residents were exposed to the tainted medicine.

Some of possible explanations given for the wide variations include storage times for the medicine and injection practices at clinics where the steroid shots were given.