Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Continues To Grow As Details Emerge On Source

A fungal meningitis outbreak continues to grow, with a few new cases being diagnosed in an outbreak that has spread to 12 states.

Health officials said they found another case in Texas, with another person being diagnosed with a rare form of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated back pain injections, NBCNews.com reported. The CDC is working to trace the contamination, which has been traced to three lots of steroid injections made at a Framingham, Massachusetts pharmacy. The drugs have since been recalled.

“Patients need to remain vigilant for onset of symptoms because fungal infections can be slow to develop. Typically in this outbreak, symptoms have appeared 1 to 4 weeks following injection, but it’s important to know that longer and shorter periods of time between injection and onset of symptoms have been reported,” the CDC said in a statement on its website.

This form of meningitis can’t be spread from person to person, as all patients confirmed with the illness had injections in the neck or spine of a steroid called methylprednisolone.

The drug-mixing company responsible for the steroid is being investigated for its role, Reuters reported. It has been found that it solicited bulk orders from physicians and failed to require proof of individual patient prescriptions, which is required under state regulations.

Reuters reviewed more than a dozen emails and found that the New England Compounding Center sold drugs without requiring physicians to supply individual patient prescriptions, which is against Massachusetts law. The company distributed thousands of vials of the contaminated steroid that put more than 14,000 people at risk in the fungal meningitis outbreak, the report stated.