FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Thirty-two people have now
died and 438 have been sickened in the fungal meningitis outbreak
linked to tainted steroid injections, U.S. health officials
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the
following state-by-state breakdown of cases: Florida: 23 cases,
including 3 deaths; Georgia, 1 case; Idaho, 1 case; Illinois, 2
cases; Indiana: 52 cases, including 4 deaths; Maryland: 23 cases,
including 1 death; Michigan: 128 cases, including 7 deaths;
Minnesota: 11 cases; New Hampshire: 13 cases; New Jersey: 27 cases;
New York: 1 case; North Carolina: 3 cases, including 1 death; Ohio:
16 cases; Pennsylvania: 1 case; Rhode Island: 3 cases; South
Carolina: 1 case; Tennessee: 81 cases, including 13 deaths; Texas:
2 cases; Virginia: 50 cases, including 2 deaths.
Ten of the 438 cases involve what the CDC calls "peripheral
joint infection," meaning an infection in a knee, hip, shoulder or
elbow. These joint infections aren't considered as dangerous as
injections near the spine for back pain that have been linked to
the potentially fatal meningitis infections.
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain
and spinal cord. The steroid injections are used to treat pain in
the lower back as well as joints.
Massachusetts officials said last week that they had put
emergency regulations in place that give the state greater control
and scrutiny over specialty pharmacies such as the New England
Compounding Center, believed to be the source of the tainted
steroid injections linked to the outbreak, according to published
Infected patients have developed a range of symptoms
approximately one to four weeks following their injection. People
who have had a steroid injection since July, and have any of the
following symptoms, should talk to their doctor as soon as
possible: worsening headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiff
neck, new weakness or numbness in any part of your body or slurred
speech, the CDC said.
The CDC and state health departments estimate that roughly
14,000 patients may have gotten steroid injections from the New
England Compounding Center. All of the fungal meningitis patients
identified so far were thought to be injected with the steroid
methylprednisolone acetate, according to the CDC.
The New England Compounding Center is what's known as a
compounding pharmacy. These pharmacies combine, mix or alter
ingredients to create drugs to meet the specific needs of
individual patients, according to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. Such customized drugs are frequently required to
fill special needs, such as a smaller dose, or the removal of an
ingredient that might trigger an allergy in a patient.
Compounding pharmacies aren't subject to the same FDA oversight
as regular drug manufacturers are, but some members of Congress say
the meningitis outbreak highlights the need for more regulatory
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
injections for back pain.
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