Steroid Injections Recalled
As many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in a national meningitis outbreak. But it’s not clear how many are in danger. Officials don’t know how many of the shots may have been contaminated with meningitis-causing fungus. And the figure includes not only those who got them in the back for pain — who are most at risk — but also those who got the shots in other places, such as knees and shoulders. There was no breakdown on the number of back injections, said Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those injected in joints are not believed to be at risk for meningitis, he said.
The number of people sickened in the outbreak reached 105 on Monday. Deaths rose to eight, with another fatality in Tennessee, the CDC said. Tennessee has the most cases, followed by Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio. Investigators suspect a steroid medication made by a specialty pharmacy may be to blame. About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid were sent to 23 states. Inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus, and tests were being done on other vials.
The first known case of the rarely seen fungal meningitis was diagnosed last month in Tennessee. The steroid maker, New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., recalled the drug, and over the weekend recalled everything else it makes.
Two Pensacola clinics are among eight facilities in the state that received contaminated pain medicine from a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy that has been linked to a nationwide meningitis outbreak. But no local cases of meningitis have been linked to the steroid, local officials said.
Pain Consultants of West Florida on North Davis Highway is one of two clinics in Pensacola that received the custom-made steroid from New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. The other clinic in Pensacola, Interventional Rehabilitation Center, never opened the package with the tainted steroid.
Health inspectors found fungus in at least one sealed vial of the steroid at the company’s facility this week, and the pharmacy recalled 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate. Shipments went to clinics in 23 states in total, with eight of those clinics being in Florida. As of Friday, there had been 47 cases in seven states linked to the medicine. Two of those cases were in Florida, officials said.
Dr. John Lanza, Escambia County Health Department’s director, said an estimated 200 to 300 patients at Pain Consultants of West Florida had the tainted medication injected into their spines or various joints. None of those patients have shown any symptoms of meningitis. “We are following up, through emergency departments or physicians, any cases that would fit symptoms of meningitis, which we haven’t found yet,” Lanza said.
Contacted Friday, a woman at Pain Consultants of West Florida said, “We have nothing to say, but thank you very much.” She hung up before giving her full name. Lanza said the department may have an exact number of those who received the steroid by Monday. If anyone believes they received the medication, they should contact their physician immediately, Lanza said.
Interventional Rehabilitation Center, which is partly owned by Sacred Heart Hospital, received some of the tainted batch but never removed it from its packaging, said Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke. The deadly meningitis outbreak rose to 47 cases in seven states, as clinics scrambled to notify patients throughout the country that the shots they got for back pain may have been contaminated with a fungus.
The tally of deaths from the rare fungal meningitis remained at five. But a seventh state, Michigan, was added to the list with four cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. Tennessee's cases now total 29; Virginia, six; Indiana, 3; two each in Maryland and Florida and one in North Carolina.
Looking for a source of the outbreak, investigators have focused on a steroid custom-made by a specialty pharmacy, New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. Health inspectors found fungus in at least one sealed vial of the steroid at the company's facility this week.
The pharmacy recalled 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate. Shipments went to clinics in 23 states.
As a precaution, the Food and Drug Administration urged physicians not to use any of the company's products, and on Friday released a list of them. The first known case in the meningitis outbreak was diagnosed about two weeks ago in Tennessee. Three of the five deaths are in Tennessee; the others in Virginia and Maryland.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.
The type of fungal meningitis involved is not contagious like the more common forms. It is caused by a fungus that's widespread but very rarely causes illness. It is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.