The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are coordinating a multi state investigation of the source of the fungal meningitis outbreak that has caused five deaths. These patients, along with thousands of others, had received an epidural steroid injection, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80 mg/ml).

The following lots of steroid were recalled September 25, by the New England Compounding Center, of Framingham, Massachusetts.

  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #05212012@68, BUD 11/17/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #06292012@26, BUD 12/26/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #08102012@51, BUD 2/6/2013

For several patients, stroke was the first symptom, which was believed to have resulted from their infection. Any patient who feels ill should contact their physician and clinicians should contact any patient who received one of these medications.

With a one to four week incubation period, the first of the potentially contaminated steroid injections were given beginning May 21.

Physicians are advised to contact any patient who had a steroid injection in the spine or joints or used any of the three lots listed above. Healthcare professionals are also recommended to stop using any products produced by the New England Compounding Center.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

Not everyone will become sick after a tainted injection; that usually depends on your immune system. Symptoms may include fever, a new or worsening headache, weakness, stiffness, swelling at the injection site, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, an altered mental status, and increasing pain. A patient could have just two symptoms. People suffering from AIDS or cancer who have a weakened immune system are at a higher risk.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord which is called the meninges. The source of the contamination can be a virus or bacteria, but meningitis can also be caused by a fungus, a less common pathogen, that can invade the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord. Fungus can spread through the bloodstream after it is introduced into the body. An epidural injection is commonly known as one given to women during childbirth. This type of epidural medication is not the same type of medication.

This form of meningitis is not contagious.

Meningitis is rarely caused by a fungus.