Several Deaths Blamed On Multistate Meningitis Outbreak

Up to 12 people died have so far due to a multistate fungal meningitis outbreak. Meningitis involves inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spine.  Some 119 others were infected with meningitis, and the numbers are expected to rise.  It is believed that up to 13,000 people received contaminated medication which caused the outbreak. Symptoms of meningitis usually emerge one month after infection.

The outbreak is linked to contaminated steroid epidurals (medication that is injected into the spine).  The medication was sourced from the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which is also called the New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc., in Framingham, Massachusetts.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention has not confirmed that the epidural steroid injection is the cause of this meningitis outbreak. However, they say that they found a link among patients who received the medication.

The NECC has since closed down and recalled all of its products.  The steroid epidurals in question, however, have already been distributed to 23 states.  The states that the NECC steroid epidurals were distributed to are West Virginia, Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, California, Indiana, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, and Illinois.

On its website the CDC said they are “currently coordinating a multistate investigation of fungal meningitis among patients who received an epidural steroid injection with a potentially contaminated product.  This form of meningitis is not contagious.  Several of these patients also suffered strokes that are believed to have resulted from their infection.”

The CDC website gave the following information about fungal meningitis:

What is meningitis? Meningitis is swelling of the protective membranes, or meninges, covering the brain and spinal cord.  The swelling is usually caused by an infection with a bacteria or virus, but meningitis can also be caused by a fungus.  Meningitis caused by a fungus is called fungal meningitis.  The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause, so knowing the specific cause of meningitis is important.

What is fungal meningitis? 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.

Is fungal meningitis common after epidural injections? 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.

What should patients do?

Find out if you received a potentially contaminated medication.  If patients are concerned about which product was used in their procedure, they should first contact the physician who performed their procedure.

The facilities who received one of the lots recalled on September 26, 2012, are actively contacting patients to find out if they are feeling well.  The list of facilities that received medication from one of these three lots is available at

If you have received a potentially contaminated medication, seek medical attention if you have symptoms.  It is important to note that infected patients have had very mild symptoms that are only slightly worse than usual.  For example, many infected patients have had slight weakness, slightly worsened back pain, or even a mild headache.  Patients have had symptoms generally starting from 1 to 4 weeks after their injection.

Patients who have had an epidural steroid injection since May of 2012, and have any of the following symptoms, should talk to their doctor as soon as possible:

  • New or worsening headache;
  • Fever;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Stiff neck;
  • New weakness or numbness in any part of your body;
  • Slurred speech; or
  • Increased pain, redness or swelling at your injection site

Patients with infections have typically developed symptoms within 1-4 weeks after their injection.  However, shorter and longer timeframes between injection and onset of symptoms have been reported.  The timeframe is still being investigated.  Patients should watch vigilantly for symptoms if they were injected with potentially contaminated steroids and see a doctor if they have any of the symptoms.

If you or a loved one have become sick or died as a result of receiving a contaminated steroid epidural, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, to discuss your rights.  You may be entitled to compensation.  We are here to help you.

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