The New England Compounding Center (NECC) has recalled all of its products including steroids for injections it provides to hospitals, clinics, and physicians for patients. The injections usually provided to patients with neck and back problems to ease pain and inflammation were contaminated by fungal meningitis and to date, according to CNN News, 105 people have become ill and 8 have died. The injections were provided to patients in nine states and contained the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate.
As many as 13,000 people have received potentially infected steroid shots. This figure includes not only those who received epidural shots, or shots in the back, but those who also received shots in the knees, shoulders, or other joints. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Only those injected in the back are likely at risk for meningitis. Approximately 17,700 single-dose vials were sent to 23 states. The vials are reportedly being tested by inspectors.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy are jointly conducting an investigation into the cause of the contaminated steroids. In addition to the steroids, the company also is recalling other products, including acetaminophen suppositories, nipple ointments, morphine, vancomycin and vitamin K.
Fungal meningitis cases due to the contaminated steroidal injections have occurred so far in Tennessee (32 cases), Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. The FDA reports the contaminant, a fungus, is being tested to determine its exact type. Symptoms of fungal meningitis can include fever, headache, nausea, and neurological deficit consistent with deep brain stroke. The timeline between the injection and the onset of symptoms can be one to four weeks, according to an October 7 article in MedPage Today by Joyce Frieden. The CDC stresses that the condition is not contagious, as are viral and bacterial meningitis which can each be spread from person-to-person. The risk comes from having been injected, usually in the back.
For symptoms of spinal meningitis, visit this Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meningitis/DS00118/DSECTION=symptoms