Texas has joined a growing list of states affected by a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis. The non-contagious disease has been linked to contaminated steroid shots produced by New England Compounding Center. The medicines have been recalled, but the outbreak continues to grow because meningitis has an incubation period of several weeks.
November 26, 2012 — The current case count from the CDC involves 490 cases of fungal meningitis, 12 peripheral joint infections, and 34 deaths in 19 states. Two people in Texas have fallen ill with fungal meningitis.
November 9, 2012 — The 42-day incubation period has ended, but new cases continue to trickle in. Click here to read more.
November 5, 2012 — The number of infections in Texas has grown to 2 people. The nationwide total is 419 illnesses (including 10 joint infections) and 30 deaths in 19 states. As the incubation period ends, it is likely that the number of new cases will taper off. However, people with the disease may continue to require treatment for several months or more.
October 26, 2012 — The outbreak of fungal meningitis continues to spread, with more cases of joint infections. The CDC reports a total of 338 infections, including 7 peripheral joint infections and 331 cases of meningitis, stroke, or central nervous system infection. Of these, at least 25 people have died in 18 states.
October 25, 2012 — The CDC is reporting 328 infections linked to contaminated medicines (including 5 peripheral joint infections and 323 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke, or infection) including 24 deaths in 18 states.
October 24, 2012 — The CDC reports that, nationwide, 317 people have been infected (312 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke, or central nervous system infection, and 5 cases of peripheral joint infections), 24 people have died in 17 states. CDC is reporting that new cases are more mild. It has been more than 1 month since NECC medicines were recalled; fungal meningitis has an unknown incubation period and illnesses could continue.
October 23, 2012 — The number of cases of fungal meningitis has grown to 308 (including 304 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke, or other central nervous system infection, and 4 cases of peripheral joint infections). Of these, 23 people have died in 17 states.
October 22, 2012 — The CDC is reporting that the number of illnesses has grown to 297 (including 294 cases of fungal meningitis and 3 peripheral joint infections) and 23 deaths. The number of states involved remains at 16.
October 19, 2012 — The CDC is reporting that, nationwide, 271 people have fallen ill (including 268 cases of fungal meningitis or stroke, and 3 joint infections). Of these, at least 21 have died. 16 states are involved in the outbreak.
October 18, 2012 — Nationwide, 257 people in 16 states have fallen ill (including 254 with fungal meningitis, stroke, or infection, and 3 with peripheral joint infections), and 20 people have died.
October 17, 2012 — In Texas, 1 infection has been confirmed. Nationwide, 247 people have fallen ill (including 245 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke, or other central-nervous system fungal infection; and 2 joint infections). Of these, 19 people have died in 15 states.
October 16, 2012 — In Texas, 1 person has fallen ill with meningitis. Nationwide, 233 people have been infected — including 231 cases of fungal meningitis and 2 cases of joint infections. At least 15 people have died in 15 states.
October 15, 2012 — The CDC is reporting 214 illnesses (212 cases of fungal meningitis with 2 cases of joint infections) and 15 deaths nationwide, in 15 different states.
October 12, 2012 — The CDC has reported 1 case of fungal meningitis in Texas. Nationwide, 184 people have fallen ill with meningitis and 1 person has suffered a joint infection. At least 14 people have died in 12 states. Click here to learn more from the CDC.
Texas Meningitis Outbreak
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the following Texas clinics received medicines from New England Compounding Center:
- Dallas Back Pain Management: Dallas
- Harris Methodist Southlake Center: Southlake
Experts are recommending that anyone who has been exposed to potentially tainted medications from New England Compounding Center should undergo an evaluation, which may involve a spinal tap to test cerebrospinal fluid for the fungus. The earliest known exposure occurred on May 21, 2012.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membrane around the spinal cord and brain. The disease is more often caused by viruses or bacteria, which can cause contagious epidemics. Because fungal meningitis is not contagious, outbreaks of the disease are exceptionally rare. The disease occurs when fungal spores get into a person’s central nervous system and cause severe inflammation and swelling. The disease can cause lifelong neurological impairment, stroke, and death.
Laboratory analysis from several patients have identified two funguses in the outbreak: Aspergillus and Exserohilum, which are normally found on rotting leaves and grass.
Symptoms of Fungal Meningitis
According to the CDC, symptoms of fungal meningitis are often very mild. The disease is also atypical of meningitis caused by virus or bacteria. Fungal meningitis symptoms tend to occur more gradually, and patients may only have a few symptoms at first (such as headache or nausea).
Because the symptoms are so mild, experts recommend that anyone who has been exposed to a contaminated medicine from New England Compounding Center should be evaluated for symptoms of meningitis. The disease can only be conclusively diagnosed with a spinal tap, which is a procedure in which cerebrospinal fluid is removed and tested.
Symptoms of fungal meningitis may include the following:
- Headache, which may grow worse
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty balancing
- Muscle stiffness in the neck
- Muscle weakness, numbness
- Personality changes
- Light sensitivity, or photophobia
- Pain, redness, swelling at the site of the injection
- And more