Multi-State Meningitis Outbreak Continues to Grow

As predicted by several government regulatory agencies, a multi-state meningitis outbreak continues to threaten those who received an injectable steroid produced and distributed by New England Compounding Center (NECC). Of significant concern, however, is the rate in which patients are developing this fungal infection. The number of people diagnosed with fungal meningitis following the injection of a tainted spinal steroid has now risen to 91 in nine states. Furthermore, the potentially fatal infection has now claimed the lives of at least seven individuals.

Concern regarding the current outbreak began on September 21, 2012, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified by the Tennessee Department of Health of a patient with the onset of meningitis. According to the report, the onset of meningitis came approximately 19 days after the patients had received an epidural steroid injection at a Tennessee ambulatory surgery center (ASC).

On September 28, investigators identified another case outside of Tennessee, possibly indicating contamination of a widely distributed medication. While regulatory officials at the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have yet to determine the source of the outbreak, they have traced the infection to New England Compounding Center, a compounding center in Framingham, Massachusetts. The product in question is a preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml), an injectable steroid often used in the treatment of back pain.

Investigators from the FDA and state officials have already begun investigating the NECC facility, where the company was responsible for the production of 17,676 potentially tainted steroid injections. According to officials, the tainted spinal injections were shipped to 75 clinics in 23 states.

As of October 4, officials were aware of 35 cases that had been reported, five of which have resulted in fatal circumstances. However, the number of people sickened by the fungal meningitis outbreak has now risen to 91 in nine states, including seven deaths. Officials predict that more victims will continue to reveal themselves in the next few weeks because of the long incubation period typically associated with fungal meningitis.

It is too early to know how many people ultimately will be affected. Federal and state investigators must determine how many people received potentially contaminated injections, then track down each one. They must then confirm that those who have subsequently become ill actually had fungal meningitis and not another disease. There are “too many variables to speculate on the number of possible cases,” said a CDC spokesman.

The compounding pharmacy allegedly responsible for the outbreak issued a recall Saturday of all products made at their facility. “This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution due to the potential risk of contamination,” the New England Compounding Center said in a statement. As of Oct 3, 2012, NECC has voluntarily shut down while hospitals and healthcare providers have been urged not to use any of their products.

Meningitis refers to inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection frequently with a bacteria or virus, but meningitis can also be caused by less common pathogens such as fungi. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

Fungal meningitis, like that witnessed in the current outbreak, occurs when the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord are infected with a foreign fungus. Fungal meningitis can develop after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system, or by direct extension from an infected body site next to the central nervous system.

Do I Have a Meningitis Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in meningitis lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with meningitis after receiving a steroid injection, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-(949) 557-5800.