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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Tainted Medications

Incidents of a rare strain of fungal meningitis and other related infections continue to mount, with at least 363 cases and 28 deaths in 19 states linked to contaminated steroid injections supplied by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Casting doubt on the overall safety of U.S. drugs, the facility has since recalled all of its products and been stripped of its pharmacy license. A broad range of products is subject to the recall.

The unprecedented outbreak of Fungal Meningitis was originally linked to contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid used to treat back and joint pain.

The warnings have since spread to patients who received other injectable medications from NECC. In fact, the FDA now suspects fungal contamination is possible in all of the supposedly sterile products made by the NECC on or after May 21, 2012, including injectables used in eye treatment or heart surgery, and has advised healthcare providers to follow-up with patients who were administered any NECC injectable product on or after that date. According to the CDC, as many as 14,000 people may have received the tainted injections.

The following link lists medical facilities throughout the country that received products shipped on or after that date from the Framingham facility – with the specific affected products included.

In the meantime, patients who received injections of NECC drugs should be alert for symptoms of fungal infection:

  • Fever
  • Swelling
  • Increasing pain, redness, or warmth at injection site
  • Changes in vision (if injection was in the eye)
  • Pain, redness, or discharge from the eye (if injection was in the eye)
  • Chest pain (if drug was used during heart surgery)
  • Drainage from the surgical site (infection within the chest, if drug was used during heart surgery)

Patients should also be alert of symptoms of Fungal Meningitis, which may be very mild at first, and include slight weakness, nausea and vomiting or mild headache. The CDC is also warning patients who received suspect medications to also be alert for more severe symptoms of fungal meningitis, including:

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

Most patients with infections developed symptoms one to four weeks after infection, but the incubation period could be longer. During a recent conference call with the media, Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health John Armstrong said that while health officials have said that the incubation period could be up to six weeks, they now believe it could take even longer for the illness to show up.
For the latest information on the Fungal Meningitis outbreak, visit the CDC Multistate Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation site // For FDA Updates, visit


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