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Rare Meningitis Outbreak From Steroid Spinal Injection

Fungal meningitis can be a deadly disease, one that can kill its victims if left untreated. Individuals who are already ill or have autoimmune type diseases are more prone to being affected by the fungus, and for them the illness can be life threatening. According to reports throughout 5 different states, 26 victims have been infected with the disease, and 4 have already died from the exposure. Sadly, the doctors believe that these will not be the only people who will fall prone to the disease, because it takes anywhere between 2-28 days of incubation in the human body before any symptoms will begin. Because of this, they are almost sure that more cases will be coming up in the very near future.

The cause of this deadly outbreak came from a Massachusetts pharmacy that created a specific steroid in which patients suffering with back pains could have it injected directly into their spine. According to reports there were at least 900 patients that received the injections in the past three months. The New England Compounding Center just last week made a voluntary recall on their steroid products and started their own personal investigation of the cause of the fungus.

Eighteen of the patients are in Tennessee at a hospital that received the largest of the steroid shipment, and they have since stopped use of this drug since the recall. Reports say that the Tennessee hospital in Nashville had at least 2,000 of the vials. While the majority of the cases have been in Tennessee, including two of the deaths there are three at this time in Virginia, as well as two in Florida, two in Maryland and another in North Carolina. The remaining two deaths occurred in Virginia and Maryland.

The Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner claims that he believes this will continue to be a rapidly growing outbreak of meningitis, seeing that 3 new victims were just diagnosed in a 24 hour period. The investigators have discovered that the illnesses began over the past two or three months, and they are continuing to find more people who are showing symptoms, what the grand total number will be is still uncertain. According to the CDC, this rare form of meningitis is not a contagious type of illness like normal bacterial meningitis, but rather a person must be exposed through inhalation, or in this case injected. This specific fungus is believed to grow on mold that grows on leafs and can also travel in the air.

The side effects can vary according to the person, those with weak immune systems are more susceptible to the full fury of the disease. Mainly meningitis causes the brain to swell which will lead to severe headaches, nausea, dizziness and fevers. The swelling of the brain may also slur the person’s speech and impair their walking and urinating abilities as well. One of the doctors looking after the patients in Tennessee claims that the patients are receiving extremely high doses of antifungal medications through an IV. Some of the patients are responding very well to the treatments, whereas others are extremely ill and will most likely die from the disease.

Dr. April Pettit at Vanderbilt University was one of the first doctors to discover the possible meningitis outbreak. She was checking up on a patient who received the spinal injection of steroids and was concerned when they were still not feeling well, and she could not determine why. After conducting some tests, Dr. Pettit discovered the fungus in her patient’s spinal fluids. The news of the outbreak led the Massachusetts pharmacy to immediately close their clinic in order to address the problem, and find the source of the outbreak. At this time investigators are also looking into the antiseptic and anesthetic that was used with the steroid injections, and though it is not completely ruled out as a cause, they are more concerned with the steroids.

If you or someone you know has been a tragic victim of this outbreak, consider contacting a personal injury attorney to fight for your case. At Jackson Allen & Williams, LLP we are an experienced team of legal professionals who want to help our community fight for their rights after receiving an illness or injury that could have been prevented. No person should have to fear that the medication of painkillers is contaminated with a deadly disease, and if this is you or a loved one don’t wait to take action. Call our office today for more information and to discuss your case.

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