CDC Ups Figure in Meningitis Outbreak

Compounding Pharmacy Behind Tainted Steroid Violated License

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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Now in 16 States
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Renee Galloway, a microbiologist in the Centers for Disease Control's Meningitis and Special Pathogens …

Earlier this week, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 13,000 people had been potentially exposed to the tainted steroid injections that are at the heart of the current fungal meningitis outbreak. The CDC has now amended that figure to be 14,000, according to the Daily Mail.

Latest Facts and Figures on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

A total of 185 people have become ill with fungal meningitis to date, with 14 reported deaths. Those who have become ill have been located in 12 states: Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Idaho and Texas are the newest additions to this list of locations, with one person in each state reported to have the illness.

Five states have reported 10 or more cases of fungal meningitis: Tennessee, 50 people ill, 6 have died; Michigan, 41 people ill, 3 have died; Virginia, 33 people ill, one has died; Indiana, 24 people ill, one has died and Maryland, 14 people ill; one has died. The remaining seven states have reported active fungal meningitis illnesses in the single digits.

U.S. Department of Defense Reassures Military Personnel

The U.S. Department of Defense reported that none of the facilities identified by the CDC as having been sites that received shipments of the recalled injectable steroid medications are military hospitals or clinics.

Pharmacy Providing Tainted Steroids Acted Outside the Scope of State License

New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., the compounding pharmacy whose injectable steroid medication has been linked with the current fungal meningitis outbreak, has been determined to have functioned outside the regulations of its license, according to Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, director of the Massachusetts' Department of Public Health's Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality.

The licensure law for NECC allows them to make medications when a doctor prescribes them, that is, a compounding pharmacy such as NECC is only supposed to be making small amounts of medications, not quantities in the thousands.

The possible legal outcomes for NECC are not yet known.

First Meningitis Outbreak Patient Goes Home

A bright spot in the ongoing fungal meningitis outbreak is that one of the earliest-diagnosed patients has been discharged to return home, reported MedPageToday.com. That person went home still receiving intravenous medication, but was well enough to leave the hospital. A second person is ready for discharge, but home care for her IV is still being arranged.

Bottom Line

Although health officials believe the incubation period for the fungal meningitis is between one and four weeks after receiving a contaminated injection and becoming ill, they also note that for some people, illness has occurred sooner -- and later -- than this period of time. It is still unknown whether people who received contaminated injections into joint spaces such as knees or shoulders will not become ill with fungal meningitis -- or whether the illness may develop but do so more slowly than with injections directly into the spine.

In the meantime, twentysomethings to baby boomers to seniors who may have been exposed to the contaminated injections need to ascertain if they did, indeed, receive the medication. If so, each one must be diligent in recognizing the subtle symptoms of the condition.

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