National News
Death Toll Rises In Meningitis Outbreak
By James Njuguna
Oct 11, 2012 - 7:59:32 PM

UNITED STATES—The chilling Meningitis outbreak that has gripped the nation has so far claimed 14 lives nationwide. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported an additional 170 cases in 11 states throughout the country. The outbreak has been linked to a Massachusetts specialty and custom-medication pharmacy, The New England Compounding Center (NECC).

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According the CDC, steroid injections at the NECC pharmacy were contaminated fungal strains that caused fungal meningitis. The fungus Exserohilum and the fungus Aspergillus have been isolated at the CDC’s fungal disease laboratory. Unlike bacterial or viral meningitis, the CDC stresses that this form of fungal meningitis is not contagious and can only be spread via steroid injections. Symptoms typically start to show some one to four weeks following injections, though there are cases whereby the symptoms showed earlier or ater. Some symptoms include new or worsening headaches, stiff neck, fever, sensitivity to light, an increased pain, redness or swelling at the injection site mong others.  The CDC stressed to inform patients that have had epidural steroid injections and have had some of these symptoms to talk to their doctor as soon as possible. 

There have been 75 clinics in 23 states that received more than 17,000 steroid injections from NECC since May 23 2012, with over 14,000 people already receiving the injection. A voluntary recall has been underway since October 6 which the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been overseeing.

Calls for new regulation policies for specialty pharmacies have been met with investigation over what went wrong and how to prevent future cases. Some clinics here in Southern California that received shipments from the NECC include the Universal Pain Management in Palmdale and the Encino Outpatient Surgicenter in Encino, California.         



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