Fungal meningitis outbreak in US – 404 cases

Nine more people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis in an outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections, health officials reported today. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the tally of cases to 404 in 19 states.

395 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke due to presumed fungal meningitis, or other central nervous system-related infection meeting the outbreak case definition, plus 9 peripheral joint infections (e.g., knee, hip, shoulder, elbow). No deaths have been associated with peripheral joint infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)External Web Site Icon, is investigating a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received contaminated preservative-free MPA steroid injections from NECC. Several patients suffered strokes that are believed to have resulted from their infections. The investigation also includes other infections from injections in a peripheral joint, such as a knee, shoulder, or ankle. Patients who received injections in peripheral joints only are not believed to be at risk for meningitis, but they could be at risk for joint and other infections.

CDC and public health officials are referring any patients who have symptoms that suggest possible infections to their physicians, who can evaluate them further.

Fungal meningitis occurs when the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord are infected with a fungus. Fungal meningitis is rare and usually caused by the spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord.

Epidural injections are generally very safe procedures, and complications are rare. Fungal meningitis is an extremely rare cause of meningitis overall, including after epidural injections. The type of epidural medication given to patients affected by this outbreak is not the same type of medication as that given to women during childbirth.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA



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