The meningitis outbreak has already infected more than 200 people in 14 states, and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning citizens that the disease is spreading.
Fifteen people have died from the infection which has been linked to pain injections.
According to the CDC, 203 people had meningitis while two others had infections in their joints.
The CDC reveals that 26 of the meningitis outbreaks patients have a confirmed fungal infections and all are infected with a black mold called Exerohilum. While that mold has never been known to cause meningitis in the past, it is common in the environment and can cause sinus and eye infections. In another case a patient was diagnosed with Aspergillus, another fungus that occasionally can cause meningitis if injected directly into the spine.
According to the CDC report:
“Both grow slowly and don’t cause the classic symptoms of meningitis. “Early in this outbreak, many patients with meningitis had only a few mild symptoms.”"
For patients stricken with the disease, treatment can last months and involve two strong antifungal drugs. The drugs used to treat the meningitis outbreak can also have horrible side effects including kidney damage.
According to the CDC:
“Early identification and treatment of patients with fungal infections might reduce the risk for serious complications, such as stroke or death.”
In a statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a warning reads:
“FDA urges patients who believe they received an injection or other product compounded by NECC to remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of infection, including meningitis. The signs and symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and altered mental status.”
The meningitis outbreak continues to be monitored by the CDC and other federal and state health officials.