A woman in Minnesota has filed the first lawsuit in relation to the ongoing outbreak of fungal meningitis that has swept across the nation, according to Reuters and other media outlets on Friday. The woman has alleged that she was one of the estimated 14,000 people who were given spinal injections that have been identified as being possible carriers of the fungus Aspergillus.
She also alleged in her lawsuit that she has "experienced symptoms consistent with meningitis" and that she has undergone testing to determine if she contracted the disease after having injections to treat back pain, according to the Reuters report. More than 170 people have now been confirmed to have contracted meningitis, and 14 have died, according to a tally published by USA Today late Thursday.
Here is some of the key information regarding the meningitis outbreak and pending government and legal action related to it.
* Both state and federal officials are pushing for legislation in the wake of the outbreak. NBC News reported on Thursday that lawmakers are pursuing an expansion of their power to regulate pharmacies like the New England Compounding Center, which compounded the tainted injections.
* The New England Compounding Center, which is located in Massachusetts, had reportedly been cited before, in 2006, and was allowed to keep operating.
* Officials say the facility has been breaking both federal and state laws, but a local branch of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that it did not have the legal jurisdiction to halt their operations.
* The NECC has now voluntarily shut down all of its operations and recalled all of the medications that it had recently processed. In a report by CNN on Wednesday, the CDC stated that the injections in question, which contain the steroid methylprednilosone, were administered to patients between May 21 and Sept. 24,
* The injections were distributed to 75 facilities in 23 different states. Now, lawmakers in at least two of those states have already begun to develop legislation to impose stricter standards on compounding facilities, which Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) told CNN "are a 19th century service operating in a 21st century industry."
* Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), has also stated that she is working on legislation to introduce stricter regulations on such facilities in her own state as well.
* Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told Reuters on Friday that he was seeking an investigation by the Justice Department into NECC's operations, saying that while he has "reached no conclusion," he believes there are "sufficient facts to warrant an investigation."
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.