The toll continues to grow from the meningitis outbreak which has been linked to three lots of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable medication primarily used for back pain. To date, there have been a total of 254 cases of fungal meningitis reported from 16 states, including 20 deaths. Additionally, there have also been reports of three cases of peripheral joint infections linked to the same contaminated lots.
Federal and state health officials estimate that approximately 14,000 patients in 23 states received methylprednisolone injections from the three tainted lots. So far about 97% of those patients have been contacted for follow-up.
The CDC has confirmed that the fungus Exserohilum rostratum, found in the contaminated vials of medication, is the culprit responsible for the outbreak. Other fungi were also found in the vials, however, they do not grow at human body temperature so they are not thought to be involved.
Since the incubation period for this type of meningitis is not currently known, it is recommended that anyone who received one of these injections continue being on the alert for symptoms for several months. The symptoms of fungal meningitis include worsening to severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, fevers, slurred speech, weakness, unsteady gait, urinary retention and sensory deficits.
Pittman, D., Smith, M. (2012, October 18) Meningitis outbreak: Death toll hits 20. Medpage Today.
Published On: October 18, 2012