Updated February 26, 2024

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Due to Recalled Spinal Steroid Injection

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Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Steroid Injection

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate an outbreak of meningitis among patients who received an epidural steroid injection. The product is methylprednisolone acetate, produced and distributed by New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. The NECC has voluntarily shut down as of October 3, 2012.

The outbreak of aspergillus meningitis has been linked to spinal steroid injections, a common treatment for back pain. According to the FDA, a sealed vial of the steroid was found to contain fungus.

Symptoms can include headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, and pain at the injection spot. Symptoms can occur shortly after the injection and up to a month after.

Injections Dispensed in Indiana

So far, 75 facilities in 23 states have received the contaminated medication. A total of 17,676 single dose vials were included in the three lots that are now being recalled. The FDA is urging doctors to not use any products from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the suspect steroid solution.

In Indiana, at least six health care facilities dispensed shots from the recalled lots:

  • Wellspring in Columbus, Indiana
  • St. Mary’s Surgicare Cross Pointe in Evansville, Indiana
  • Physical Medicine in Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • OSMC Outpatient Surgery Center in Elkhart, Indiana
  • South Bend Clinic in South Bend, Indiana
  • Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana

State health officials have asked clinics and any other health care providers who used these products to reach out to patients to let them know of the risks.

News Updates

UPDATE [10/08/12]

According to The Wall Street Journal, fungal meningitis has claimed the life of seven individuals. In total, 91 people in nine states have been sickened due to the recalled epidural steroid injection.

UPDATE [10/09/12 9:15 AM EST]

According to the CDC, 105 patients have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis due to the recalled epidural steroid injection. Eight deaths have been reported.  Over 13,000 patients might have received products from NECC.

UPDATE [10/09/12 3:37 PM EST]

The CDC is now reporting the potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012. Currently, 119 people in 10 states people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis. Eleven deaths have been reported.

UPDATE [10/10/12 3:59 PM EST]

The number of fungal meningitis cases continue to rise due to the recalled epidural steroid injection manufactured by the New England Compounding Center.  As of today, the CDC is reporting 137 confirmed cases with twelve deaths. The contaminated injections were given as early as May 21, 2012. If you have received an epidural steroid injection, call your physician or go to the emergency room to be tested for signs and symptoms of fungal meningitis.

UPDATE [10/11/12 2:13 PM EST]

Fungal meningitis has claimed the life of an Indiana patient. The individual wasn’t an Indiana resident but received their injection at an Indiana clinic. The number of cases in the state is now up to 21. The CDC is reporting the number of cases linked to steroid shots is up to 170 in 11 states. In total, 14 deaths have been reported.

UPDATE [10/15/12 9:13 AM EST]

As expected, the total number of cases of fungal meningitis has been on the rise. Currently, there are 205 reported cases in 14 states with 15 deaths.  Tennessee continues to be the hardest hit state, with 53 cases of meningitis and six deaths.

UPDATE [10/15/12 3:20 PM EST]

Currently, the FDA is investigating two other drugs produced by NECC. One of the drugs is called triamcinolone acetonide and is similar to the steroid injection that was recalled earlier. Additionally, two other patients were infected with a peripheral join infection (e.g. knee, hip, shoulder, elbow)  and were administered NECC cardioplegic solution during surgery. The cardioplegic solution under FDA investigation is used to induce cardiac muscle paralysis during open heart surgery to prevent injury to the heart.

UPDATE [10/19/12 8:59 AM EST]

Indiana has 34 reported cases of fungal meningitis and is ranked fourth highest among the 16 infected states, according to the CDC. Indiana has reported two deaths. The fungal meningitis outbreak associated with epidural steroid injections of methylprednisolone acetate has sickened 254 and caused 20 deaths.

UPDATE [10/22/12 8:58 AM EST]

The number of fungal meningitis cases linked to a recalled epidural injection has risen to 38 in Indiana, according to the CDC. Fungal meningitis has claimed the life of two Indiana patients. Overall, 282 patients have been sickened and 23 deaths have been reported.

UPDATE [10/24/12 3:05 PM EST]

According to the CDC, health officials in Indiana have confirmed another death from fungal meningitis. The total number of cases in the state of Indiana has risen to 41, with three deaths. The latest death was an Indiana resident, which brings Indiana’s total deaths to two residents and one out-of-state patient who received the tainted injection at an Indiana clinic in Elkhart.

UPDATE [10/31/12 4:10 PM EST]

Another patient has died after contracting fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections supplied by the NECC. The patient is from Virginia and brings the national death toll from the outbreak to 28.

UPDATE [11/1/12 4:41 PM EST]

The number of fungal meningitis claims continue to rise. As of today, 377 confirmed cases have been reported as well as 28 deaths. WKW partner Bruce Kehoe was invited to attend a symposium on pharmacy compounding errors and meningitis.

UPDATE  [11/9/12 2:29 PM EST]

Indiana health officials say four people have now died from fungal meningitis that is linked to recalled steroid injections from the NECC. In addition to the four deaths reported in Indiana, there are now 51 Indiana patients infected with the rare disease.

Indiana has banned the NECC from doing business in the state. The Indiana Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to suspend the license of the NECC. Currently, the CDC is reporting 428 cases of fungal meningitis with 28 deaths.

UPDATE [11/16/12 4:28 PM EST]

The Indiana State Department of Health has reported a fifth Indiana victim has died from the fungal meningitis outbreak. Currently, 469 cases of fungal meningitis have been reported, with 33 confirmed deaths.

UPDATE [11/21/12 3:44 PM EST]

Indiana state officials have confirmed a sixth death from fungal meningitis due to the recalled epidural steroid injections from the NECC. The latest reported death was an out-of-state resident who received the injection at one of the Indiana clinics that received the tainted steroids. Indiana has reported 56 cases with, six deaths. Countrywide, 478 confirmed fungal meningitis cases have been reported, with 34 deaths.

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