Thursday, October 11, 2012

Death toll jumps to 11 in meningitis outbreak; 119 people infected

The Atlanta-based CDC released new numbers Tuesday in the meningitis outbreak linked to injectable drugs.
The number of people sickened has now reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.
New Jersey is the 10th state to report at least one illness. The other states involved in the outbreak so far are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.
Officials have tied the outbreak of rare fungalmeningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. At least one contaminated vial was found at the company.
The company recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, and later recalled everything it makes.
The FDA released a list of 34 different drugs Friday that included steroids, epidural anesthetics used to block pain during childbirth, and surgery and saline solutions that are compounded to make different medications. All of these recalled products were made by the New England Compound Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass., and are administered by injection into the spine.
Health officials say people in 23 states could be affected.
The 23 affected states are: 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 Atlanta-based CDC asked the clinics, doctors and hospitals in 23 states that have received shipments of medications from NECC to stop using them immediately. Anyone who has received epidural injections since July 1 should watch for symptoms of meningitis. Symptoms include worsening headache, fever, stiff neck, trouble walking or falling and progressing back pain.
To see a full list of the drugs recalled, click here.
No infections have been reported in Georgia, but at least one shipment of the drugs arrived in the state, according to Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald.
In a letter to WXIA, Dr. Fitzgerals says, "Affected medication was delivered to a healthcare facility in the Macon area and clinicians in that area should be extra vigilant. To date, DPH is aware of no other affected shipments arriving in Georgia."

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