Medical professionals nationwide are on the alert for a deadly meningitis outbreak, which U.S. health officials believe is caused by a fungus-tainted steroid. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control warn that as many as 17,000 people in 23 states may have received the contaminated medication.
To date, the outbreak has sickened more than 500 people and killed more than 30.
Lopez McHugh is investigating cases related to this outbreak. If you or a loved one had an injection and were diagnosed with meningitis, you should contact a Lopez McHugh lawyer for a free consultation. If you have any health concerns, you should contact a health professional immediately.
The steroid at issue, called methylprednisolone acetate, is commonly injected as an epidural (into the spinal cord) to treat back pain. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., manufactured the steroid. It ceased operations on October 3. On October 15, 2012, the FDA gave an update warning that a second product manufactured by the New England Compounding Center, has been linked to fungal meningitis. Triamcinolone acetonide is also commonly used as an epidural steroid.
Former workers at the Compounding Center raised safety concerns before the outbreak, according to the New York Times.
“Six former employees, five from Ameridose and one from New England Compounding, described a corporate culture that encouraged shortcuts, even when that meant compromising safety,” the New York Times says.
Although investigators are still looking into the precise cause of the infection, they’ve confirmed that all of the people who became sick received injections containing medication from the New England Compounding Center. Further, this center has reportedly been investigated in the past.
According to the CDC, meningitis is a potentially lethal inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Unlike the more common forms caused by viruses and bacteria, the fungal meningitis identified in the outbreak is not contagious.
But medical professionals say it’s particularly dangerous because the tainted medication is injected into the spine, which gives the infection a direct path to the brain.
According to the CDC, the following states have received the suspected steroid: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
This promises to be a very fast moving issue and Lopez McHugh will work to stay at the forefront as news continues to break.
See more information from the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/meningitis.html.