A meningitis outbreak has spread to five states – sickening 26 people and killing four, according to a story in USA Today.
Investigators believe the condition, a potentially deadly inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, was likely caused by a fungus-tainted steroid medication commonly injected to treat back pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified the steroid manufacturer as the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass.
According to the story, 18 of the cases were reported in Tennessee, where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid; three were reported in Virginia; two in Maryland; two in Florida and one in North Carolina.
Two of the deaths were in Tennessee, and there was one each in Virginia and Maryland. The cases in Tennessee began in July.
The report quotes Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, as saying he believes part of the reason for the Nashville cluster is early detection. Both Schaffner and Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner are quoted as saying that more cases are virtually certain in the coming days.
Although the steroid has been identified as the most likely source of the fungus, investigators have been looking into at least three different products used for the back injections that could have been tainted, and none of the products have been ruled out.
See the story here: