The size and scope of the deadly meningitis outbreak is widening. Patients who have received prescription injections of steroids produced at the Boston pharmaceutical company New England Compounding Center are being contacted by their health care providers advising them they may be at risk.
More than 200 people have gotten sick and over a dozen have died. The deaths have all been the result of receiving epidural injections. That is, injections into the spinal cord to relieve back pain. Apparently the steroid was contaminated with a fungal bacteria, which causes an infection in the spinal cord.
Patients who received epidural spinal injections should be on the lookout for symptoms of meningitis. They include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, sensitivity to light or confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Other patients who received NECC product injections in other parts of the body, not the spine, but the knees or other joints, to relieve pain, have also acquired fungal infections from the pharmaceutical injection, but so far those infections have not been fatal. However, several of the patients require hospitalization.
There have even been reports that patients receiving eye injections or injections to the heart during surgery of drugs made at NECC, have also contracted fungal meningitis.
If you have received either type of those injections be on the lookout for fever, swelling, discharge from the eye, chest pain, or drainage from the surgical site, contact your doctor immediately.
Nearly 14,000 people are at risk of developing meningitis from the tainted injections that were sent to 76 facilities in 23 states. So far Tennessee has been hit the hardest.
Other states reporting outbreaks include Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, and New Hampshire.
NECC is being investigated by several states as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Now there are warnings that it may also be investigated for allegedly violating federal controlled substances laws.