We reported on October 9th that contaminated steroids have sickened 105 people with a noncontagious but deadly form of fungal meningitis, with 8 people dying. Steroids contaminated with fungus have claimed two more victims since Wednesday. In total, 14 have died and 170 have been sickened from a rare fungal meningitis in 11 states since the outbreak.
13,000 may Have Been Exposed
Though the condition is not transmitted from person-to-person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 13,000 patients may have been injected with the contaminated steroid. The steroid in question is a painkiller, typically administered to relieve back pain.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found fungus in sealed vials of the steroid, which was produced by New England Compounding Center (NECC). Late last week, the NECC voluntarily recalled all of its products and removed its own license to operate until the investigation’s completion.
Symptoms of Fungal Meningitis
Meningitis inflames the membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord. Usually brought on by a viral or bacterial infection, fungal infection is rare and not contagious but no less deadly. Symptoms include headache; fever; nausea; stiffness of the neck; and (in the case of fungal infection) confusion, dizziness, and aversion to bright light. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center says that because blood vessels clot or bleed in response to fungal infections, symptoms are rarely mild and can be as severe as small strokes.
Common symptoms of fungal meningitis include severe headache, fever, nausea, confusion, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center says that symptoms are rarely mild—and no wonder, since the condition causes blood vessels to clot or bleed, even causing small strokes.
Dr. Schaffner encourages people experiencing these symptoms to approach a professional, since patients have a greater chance of survival if treated early.
The CDC provides a list of the 76 medical facilities that bought the contaminated steroid.