Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Steroid InjectionsMeningitis is a disease that is characterized by inflammation of the protective membranes that cover your brain and spinal cord. When taken collectively, these protective membranes are referred to as the meninges.
Meningitis is an extremely serious disease. Meningitis may be a life-threatening medical emergency. The reason for this is that the inflammation is close to your brain and spinal cord.
There are several kinds of meningitis. Fungal meningitis is not nearly as common as other forms of the disease. Fungal meningitis usually results from a fungus that is known as cryptococcus, which is found in pigeon droppings.
An outbreak of fungal meningitis has occurred. This outbreak has been linked to steroid injections that people have received, primarily for back pain.
Health officials warn of growing numbers
At this time, 35 people in 6 states have come down with fungal meningitis, and 5 of these 35 people have died from the disease. Health officials are warning that the number of cases is probably going to grow from this outbreak.
The contaminated steroid injections were made by New England Compounding Center, which is a specialty pharmacy that is located in Massachusetts. The pharmacy put out a recall last week and has suspended operations.
A clinic in Nashville, Tennessee received the largest shipment of the steroid injections. 18 of the cases of fungal meningitis have taken place in Tennessee. However, investigators are still trying to find the source of the fungus that is responsible for this outbreak.
Where cases have occurred
In addition to Tennessee, three cases of fungal meningitis have occurred in Virginia, two in Florida, two in Maryland and one in North Carolina. One death has occurred in Maryland and Virginia, and two deaths have taken place in Tennessee, according to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One of the reasons why the number of cases is likely to increase is because the drug that is used in steroid injections has been sent to 23 states. These states are Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho and Georgia.
Bacterial and viral meningitis are more common types of meningitis, and they are contagious. One good thing is that fungal meningitis is not contagious.
The Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner said that new cases of fungal meningitis are almost sure to be revealed in the coming days. He referred to the situation as a rapidly evolving outbreak.
Unclear on new cases
However, federal health officials have not been clear as to whether new cases of fungal meningitis are taking place. What these federal health officials are searching for and discovering in increasing numbers are fungal meningitis cases that have taken place in the last two or three months.
The incubation period for fungal meningitis is estimated to be anywhere from 2 to 28 days. Because of this fact, some people with the disease may not have gotten sick yet.
Investigators are also checking out the anesthetic and antiseptic that were used during the steroid injections. However, the steroid injections are still the primary suspects for this outbreak of fungal meningitis.