Columbia unaffected by meningitis outbreak in nine states

Monday, October 8, 2012 | 7:34 p.m. CDT; updated 11:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 8, 2012

COLUMBIA — Columbia hospitals will not be affected by the recall of the steroid injection that has caused the noncontagious meningitis outbreak in other states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fungus-infected drug, manufactured by New England Compounding Center, has caused 105 cases of meningitis in the U.S., with eight reported deaths. On Oct. 6, the center voluntarily recalled all products in circulation that were made and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Mass.

Missouri is not one of the 23 states that received the drug. Only nine of those 23 states are affected: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Tennessee reported the most cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients contracted the fungus after receiving a spinal injection of a preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate used to treat pain and inflammation. 

"FDA has observed fungal contamination by direct microscopic examination of foreign matter taken from a sealed vial of methylprednisolone acetate collected from NECC," officials from the Food and Drug Administration said. "FDA is in the process of conducting additional microbial testing to confirm the exact species of the fungus." 

Typical meningitis symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and stiffness of the neck. In addition, people with fungal meningitis might experience confusion, dizziness and discomfort from bright lights, according to the CDC. 

"Infected patients have presented approximately 1 to 4 weeks following their injection with a variety of symptoms, including fever, new or worsening headache, nausea and new neurological deficit (consistent with deep brain stroke)," CDC officials said. "Some of these patients' symptoms were very mild in nature."  

The CDC advises physicians to contact patients who have had an injection using any of the three types of methylprednisolone acetate listed below: 

  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #05212012@68, BUD 11/17/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #06292012@26, BUD 12/26/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #08102012@51, BUD 2/6/2013

The CDC and FDA also recommends that health care professionals stop using all products produced by the NECC until they know more.

Anyone who has experienced problems following an injection with an NECC product should report it to MedWatch online or by calling 800-FDA-1088. 

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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