Posted: Oct 12, 2012 9:02 AM by Ryan Jaslow - CBS News
The number of Americans infected with fungal meningitis has risen to 170 people, 14 of whom died. The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the infection has now spread to 11 states, one more than officials reported yesterday.
The newest state to have reported infections is Idaho, with one case. Other States with reported infections of fungal meningitis include Florida (seven cases including two deaths), Indiana (21 cases including one death), Maryland (13 cases including one death), Michigan (39 cases including three deaths), Minnesota (three cases), North Carolina (two cases), Ohio (three cases), Tennessee (49 cases including six deaths) Virginia (30 cases including one death), and New Jersey (two cases).
Today's numbers represent an overall increase from yesterday's data. The CDC reported on Oct. 10 that there had been 137 confirmed cases of meningitis infections and 12 deaths in 10 states .
The outbreak is tied to methylprednisolone acetate steroid injections made by specialty pharmacy New England Compounding Center. After contaminants were discovered in an unopened vial during an inspection at the Framingham, Mass., facility, three lots of single-dose vials of the steroid that were sent to 76 facilities in 23 U.S. states -- in total 17,676 vials -- were recalled. Up to 13,000 people may have received the injections, health officials said.
States that received injections include: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and West Virginia. However, because the company is licensed in all 50 states, there is a possibility that products could have been shipped elsewhere.
The company expanded its recall on Oct. 6 to include all other products the company manufactures.
Compounding pharmacies supply products that aren't commercially available, based on an individual doctor's prescription. Some have grown into larger businesses, operating across state lines and supplying drugs to thousands of hospitals, clinics and physicians. Because they only collect drug ingredients and combine or package them into specific doses for specific clients, compounding companies aren't subject to FDA regulations.
Because of the lax regulations, U.S. House and Senate lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday asked federal health officials for briefings on the fungal meningitis outbreak, Reuters reported. Their investigation could lead to harsher rules against compounding companies.
A second pharmacy connected to the New England Compounding Center, Ameridose, voluntarily shut itself down for state and federal inspection. The company was accused by a business customer this summer of failing to separate sterile and non-sterile supplies, a charge the company strongly denies.
Fungal meningitis is not contagious unlike other forms of the disease, health officials note. The infection can be treated with high-dose intravenous antifungal medications. The earlier people get treated, the more likely they are to have better outcomes, officials said.
The source of the fungus has not yet been identified, and the cause of infections in the other patients is still being assessed, according to the CDC.
Infected patients have reported mild symptoms, including slight weakness, slightly worsened back pain or even a mild headache, the CDC said. Patients have had symptoms generally starting from one to four weeks after receiving the injection. Several patients also suffered strokes that are believed to have been caused by the infection.
Those who had an epidural steroid injection since May 21 should contact their doctor as soon as possible if they are experiencing the previously mentioned symptoms in addition to fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, slurred speech or increased pain and redness at the injection site. Concerned patients could also check with their doctor if they have any questions on the type of medication used in their procedure.
The CDC has more information on the meningitis outbreak.
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