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Meningitis Outbreak Continues to Grow

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14 new cases of a rare and serious form of fungal meningitis were discovered today, increasing the total number of people sickened by a common epidural injection used for back pain to 105, including 8 dead.

Sadly, it does not appear that we have seen the end to the number of people exposed. Today, a spokesman for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 13,000 people may have been exposed to the tainted steroid shot used to treat back pain. It is imperative that these people are located immediately so they can get necessary treatment.

While the CDC investigation continues, it appears that the source of the contaminated epidural injection is a compounding pharmacy – New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts. Compounding pharmacies are under-regulated – falling between the FDA’s federal regulation and the power of the states. NECC has closed its doors and recalled all of its medications.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautions anyone that received a back shot between after May 21, 2012 and before September 26, 2012 (when the injections were recalled) to check with the CDC facilities map to see if their facility received the contaminated batch of medicine. The CDC map can be linked to here.

As of today, the contaminated injection has been discovered in only nine of the 23 states previously believed to have the shots. The effected states include – Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

The CDC continues its nationwide effort to inform the public about the contaminated shots because some affected people may not know of the risk and may not be experiencing symptoms yet. Some victims do not experience symptoms for more than a month after they received the contaminated shot, making the meningitis difficult to diagnose.

Those that have fallen ill have contracted a very rare and serious form of fungal meningitis called aspergillus meningitis. The hallmark symptoms of aspergillus meningitis are headache, fever, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and slurred speech. Some people may only experience a few of these symptoms.

If you received a shot for back pain after May 21, 2012, link to the CDC facilities map to confirm that you did not receive the shot from a facility linked to the contaminated shot.

On the other hand, if you received the shot from a facility listed on the CDC website, call the number listed on the CDC website immediately as well as your primary care doctor. There are diagnostic tests available that can determine whether you are at risk for developing fungal meningitis. Immediate identification and treatment is vital.