October 5, 2012 — An outbreak of fungal meningitis tied to contaminated epidural steroid injections has grown to 47 illnesses and 5 deaths in 7 states. The states involved in the outbreak are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee, with most of the cases in Tennessee. The FDA has also recalled all products sold by the New England Compounding Center, where the outbreak originated.
The contaminated products were shipped to at least 75 clinics in 23 different states. The outbreak is expected to continue growing, because meningitis has an incubation period of up to four weeks. Experts recommend that anyone who has had an epidural steroid injection within the last few months should contact a doctor immediately if they show symptoms of meningitis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the current total of illnesses by state is as follows:
- Florida: 2 cases
- Indiana: 3 cases
- Maryland: 2 cases, including 1 death
- Michigan: 4 cases
- North Carolina: 1 case
- Tennessee: 29 cases, including 3 deaths
- Virginia: 6 cases, including 1 death
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also published a Safety Communication to update the public about the government’s actions to address the outbreak. The FDA announced they have found fungal contamination on samples of sealed vials of methylprednisolone acetate (an epidural steroid injection commonly used to treat back pain). The samples were collected from New England Compounding Center (NECC).
The FDA has also taken the additional precautionary step of recalling all other medication sold by the New England Compounding Company. Healthcare professionals are advised not to use the products because of potential fungal contamination. For a full list of recalled products, click here.