As of October 31, 2012, a rare fungal infection has killed 28 people and made 377 sick with meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The cause of this infection is contaminated steroids, which are injected directly into the spine, knee, shoulder, or ankle to relieve pain.
Cases of the contaminated steroids have been reported in 19 U.S. states, mostly in the east, although Texas and Idaho have each reported one case.
Source of the Steroid
The contaminated steroids were from the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. On September 26, the company voluntarily recalled three lots of the suspect steroid, including 80-milligram injection doses with the following lot numbers and beyond-use dates:
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed that a fungus called Exserohilum rostratum was found in unopened vials of methylprednisolone acetate from the second and third of the three above-mentioned lots; the first lot is still being tested.
About the Infection
Meningitis is a potentially serious inflammation of the spinal cord. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or (rarely) mold. Meningitis causes headaches, fever, and balance problems. In many cases, it is accompanied by a stiff neck. Luckily, this type of meningitis is not communicable.
Aspergillus—a mold found in dead leaves, among other sites—was originally the suspect mold in the majority of meningitis cases. Of the 54 cases that the CDC has confirmed, however, only one was found with the aspergillus fungus. One had the Cladosporium fungus, and the rest had Exserohilum rostratum, both of which are molds found in soil and on plants.
What Is Being Done
The CDC and the various state health departments say that as many as 14,000 people may have received the contaminated steroid injections; nearly all of these people have been contacted about the potential danger.
Fungal infections develop slowly; the incubation period can be anywhere from two days to two months. Health officials advise anyone who has had a steroid injection in the last few months to watch for the following symptoms:
- stiff neck;
- nausea and vomiting;
- sensitivity to light; and
- altered mental status.
Medication errors can change—and even end—a life. Gray and White Law encourages you to contact a Louisville medication error attorney if you or someone you love has been the victim of a bad medicine. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.