U.S. Meningitis outbreak spreads to five states, four dead and twenty-six infected
Nashville, TN, United States (4E) – A non-contagious meningitis traced to epidural steroid injections has reportedly spread to five states, four victims have died and another 30 sick, and the number of affected individual is expected to increase.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that five additional cases were reported in Tennessee, there are now 18 total number of cases in that state.
Two people have died in Tennessee, one in Virginia and one in Maryland and there were three cases recorded in Virginia, two each in Florida and Maryland and one in North Carolina.
According to State Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner, the victims in Tennessee were between ages 49 to 89.
Dreyzehner said that the outbreak is linked to methylprednisolone acetate, an injectible steroid product used to treat pain and inflammation.
All the victims had allegedly received injections from a Massachusetts pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center, which immediately issued a voluntary recall of three lots of methylprednisolone acetate 80mg/mlinjection last September 26. The lot numbers are #05212012@68, #06292012@26 and #08102012@51. Around 23 states may have received shipments of the contaminated drug.
Food and Drug Administration spokesperson, Erica Jefferson, said they are cooperating with state health departments and the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy to examine the scope and cause of the outbreak of the fungal meningitis.
More cases are expected, said Dreyzehner, who noted that infection can take up to 28 days to develop.
Officials revealed that three pain treatment centers in Tennessee acquired the steroids that were included in the three recalled lots. They are the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, Tennessee; the PCA Pain Care Center in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville.
Dreyzehner said that they are closer to identifying the cause but have not concluded that there is one factor at this time. He added that anesthetic or the antiseptic are also being checked as possible causes of infection
Health officials have widened the dates of the investigation, recently adding patients treated between July 1 and September 20, as a precaution. Previously, patients in the Nashville facility have contacted 737 patients who had epidural steroid injections between July 30 and September 20.
Meningitis is a term for swelling of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spine.
Officials said that this type of meningitis is not contagious between people, and symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.