Patients Exposed to Meningitis-Linked Steroid Injection

Posted By Power Rogers & Smith, P.C. || 11-Oct-2012

An update has been released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the number of confirmed meningitis cases and deaths related to the outbreak garnered widespread media coverage.

According to an Oct. 8 New York Times article, 97 people in 23 states have fallen ill from the growing outbreak of fungal meningitis, which has already claimed eight lives. More cases of meningitis are expected, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that 13,000 people may have been exposed to the steroid which has been linked to the current outbreak, the Times reports. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provided this figure based on reports from clinics and state health departments that used the steroid, which is injected near the spine to relieve back pain.

U.S. health officials reported Thursday that 14 people have now died and 170 have been sickened in the national meningitis outbreak apparently linked to contaminated steroid injections.

According to the New York Times, the New England Compounding Center, where all of the potentially tainted steroids were manufactured, has currently stopped operations and recalled all of its products. However, as of Monday, it is estimated that 17,676 doses of the steroid were shipped across the country, with Tennessee receiving a disproportionate share. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 75 health care facilities in the following states have received the steroid: Illinois; California; Connecticut; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Indiana; Maryland; Michigan; Minnesota; North Carolina; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Nevada; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Virginia; Tennessee; Texas; and West Virginia.

The Times reports that shipments of the potentially tainted steroids were sent out starting on May 21 and that patients who received lumbar epidural steroid injections for back pain after this May 21, should see a doctor if they develop symptoms of meningitis. These symptoms include sensitivity to light, fever, headache or a stiff neck.

According to the Times article, further testing revealed a fungus in the patient’s spinal fluid, a rare finding which led the doctor to inquire as to whether the patient recently received any unusual treatments.

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