Please note that the views expressed in the article below are not necessarily those of the Hospital.
CDC says number of confirmed U.S. meningitis cases rises to 47
Last Updated: 2012-10-05 16:59:21 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - The number of people stricken with a rare form of meningitis linked to steroid injections rose to 47 in seven U.S. states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, but the number of people killed by the outbreak remained at five.
In its latest update on the spread of fungal meningitis, the CDC said the first four cases were confirmed in Michigan, the seventh state hit by the widening outbreak.
Other states with cases are Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.
The 47 cases confirmed so far compare with 35 on Thursday. Tennessee accounts for most of those and on Friday state officials said the number had risen to 29 cases, up four from Thursday.
Vials of steroids linked to the outbreak were shipped to 23 states and could have been used to inject thousands of patients, mostly to relieve back pain, authorities have said.
The steroid is usually injected to control back pain. While fungal meningitis is rare and life-threatening, it is not spread by person-to-person contact.
The infected patients have shown a variety of symptoms from one to four weeks after their injection including fever, a new or worsening headache, nausea and new neurological deficits that would be consistent with deep brain stroke, the CDC said.
All the cases have so far been traced to three lots of the steroid prepared at New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts. The company said it has suspended its operations while the investigation is ongoing.
The Massachusetts Health Department said there were 17,676 vials of medication in each of the three lots of methylprednisolone acetate sent out July through September and have a shelf life of 180 days.
The CDC said it had not yet determined the rate of infection among patients who received the potentially tainted steroid. The rate of infection is important because it would help pinpoint the scope of the potential outbreak.
The steroid was sent to California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and West Virginia, the CDC said.
Each state could have hundreds of patients or more who were exposed through injections.
In Indiana, which had one case, St. Mary's Health said on Thursday that 560 patients had received the medication at the Surgicare Cross Pointe clinic in Evansville.
Minnesota had no reported confirmed cases on Friday, but up to 600 patients may have been exposed to the tainted medication, state health department spokesman Buddy Ferguson said.