One death occurred in both Maryland and Virginia, and the other two deaths occurred in Tennessee. All four of the patients, who died had received lumbar epidural steroid injections. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the drug that is suspected is preservative free methylprednisolone acetate. The CDC said the drug was contaminated with a fungus, Aspergillus and all of the infected patients had been treated with the steroid. The steroid was produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. and is believed to have been shipped to at least 23 states, the CDC said.
What is Meningitis?Officials said Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and this type of meningitis is not bacterial or viral, it has been caused by a fungus. The fungus is often found in leaf mold, officials said.
Incubation PeriodThey said, it has an incubation period that appears to be from a few days to 4 weeks from the time of the injection. The symptoms include severe or worsening headaches, nausea, and difficulty with balance, fever and slurred speech.
The RecallAfter the outbreak a nationwide recall was issued for the drug with lot numbers of the suspected contaminated steroid injections. They are lot numbers 05212012-68; 06292012-26; and 08102012-51. The New England Compounding Center has not made any statements about the suspected contamination or the cases of illness and deaths.
Past Steroid OutbreaksIn 2002 there was a similar outbreak of meningitis that was also linked to contaminated steroid injections. There were 4 people that became ill and one death, in the outbreak. A South Carolina compounding pharmacy prepared the injectable steroids. The investigation into the drug found improper and inadequate sterility practices, could have been at fault.