Steroid meningitis death toll rises to 11
The number of people who have died from meningitis has reached 11, out of 119 cases reported across the country, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Victims have died in four states: six in Tennessee, three in Michigan and one each in Maryland and Virginia. Other states involved in the outbreak include Indiana, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey and Ohio.
Officials have tied the outbreak of rare fungal meningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was custom-made by New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass. The steroid was recalled Sept. 26.
At least one contaminated vial was found at the company, which later recalled every product it makes. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., announced that he will introduce legislation that would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's oversight of compounding pharmacies because of the meningitis outbreak.
Pharmacy “compounding” often involves making a new drug whose safety and efficacy have not been demonstrated with the kind of data the FDA ordinarily would require in reviewing a new drug application, according to Markey's office.
The government has identified about 75 facilities in 23 states that received the recalled doses. It is not clear exactly how many people could get sick, though the fungus is not transmitted from person to person.
The CDC has said “clinicians should actively contact patients” who received potentially contaminated injections starting on May 21.
“All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately,” said Benjamin Park, medical officer at the CDC's mycotic diseases branch. “It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate anti-fungal therapy, lives may be saved.”
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Infected patients have developed a variety of symptoms, which have set in one to four weeks after their injections. These include fever, a new or worsening headache, nausea and problems similar to those seen in a stroke.
Patsy Bivins, 68, of Sturgis, Ky., received one of the tainted steroid shots to ease her chronic back pain at a facility in Evansville, Ind. Bivins' doctors have said she doesn't need to be checked unless she develops symptoms.
“I'm not sure if I like it,” Bivins said. “Seems like there should be some way to tell it before you get the symptoms. Honestly, it makes me worse than I was.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Judge orders nonprofit tax form release in case against IRS
- Senators approve Keystone pipeline
- Overhaul of military benefit programs sought
- Taliban 5 linking with Haqqani, Graham says
- Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think
- San Francisco blaze kills Mission District resident
- Penn State University eyes changes to sexual misconduct case handling
- Obama calls for government spending surge
- Rock pythons creep into Everglades
- 2 GOP senators to back Lynch for attorney general
- Police in South Carolina: Family killed man in custody fight