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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Causes 170 Illnesses, 14 Deaths

October 11, 2012 — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that dozens more cases of fungal meningitis have been identified in a growing outbreak linked to contaminated steroid shots. At least 170 people have fallen ill and 14 have died in 11 states. One case involves a man who got an infection in his ankle — the first injury linked to steroid shots in joints as opposed to epidural injections.


As of today, the CDC reports the following statistics associated with the outbreak:

  • Florida: 7 cases, 2 deaths
  • Idaho: 1 case
  • Indiana: 21 cases, 1 death
  • Maryland: 13 cases, 1 death
  • Michigan: 39 cases, 3 deaths
  • Minnesota: 3 cases
  • New Jersey: 2 cases
  • North Carolina: 2 cases
  • Ohio: 3 cases
  • Tennessee: 49 cases, 6 deaths
  • Virginia: 30 cases

Experts estimate that 14,000 people — 1,000 more people than estimates from earlier this week — may have been exposed to potentially tainted steroid shots, which are used to treat back pain and joint pain. Approximately 12,000 people have been notified so far.

The CDC has found the fungus Exserohilum in 10 patients, and Aspergillus fungus in one patient. The molds are commonly found in soil, grasses, and leaves. They are not contagious on their own, but can cause severe infections if they are ingested.

The New England Compounding Center operated next to a waste and recycling facility in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Health officials have found fungus in at least 50 vials of medicine from the facility. The company recalled three lots of steroid shots on September 26. They recalled all medicines produced at the facility on October 5.

Officials say that New England Compounding Center may have violated their license by mass-producing steroid shots and selling them across state lines. The company is a compounding pharmacy, a modern-day version of an apothecary, which is traditionally responsible for creating small-scale, custom drugs (like a liquid form of a solid medication). Increasingly, compounding pharmacies have been selling large volumes of products, like small-scale drug companies. However, compounding pharmacies are subject to far less government oversight than drug companies.

The CDC is recommending anyone who has had a steroid shot since May 21 should be on the lookout for symptoms of meningitis or stroke (a complication of fungal meningitis). Concerned people can contact their physician to find out if they were exposed. If exposure has occurred, the CDC recommends being vigilant for symptoms of meningitis, which may be very mild.

Symptoms of fungal meningitis may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Altered mental status

Do I have a Fungal Meningitis Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting fungal meningitis induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by fungal meningitis from tainted steroid shots, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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