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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Traced to Compounding Pharmacy

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on October 17, 2012

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that they have traced the source of a rare but deadly fungal meningitis outbreak to a compounding pharmacy in New England. James O. Cunningham and other Orlando personal injury lawyers are following developments in this case closely, as up to 14,000 people in at least 14 states have been affected. Mr. Cunningham is especially concerned, as at least ten cases and two deaths have been confirmed in Florida so far, and the count is expected to go higher in the coming weeks.

The CDC reports that at least 203 people have contracted meningitis from using pharmaceutical steroids tainted by a type of black mold called Exserohilum or another fungus called Aspergillis. The patients received the steroid injections for treatment for back pain and other ailments. The outbreak began on Sept. 18, when a doctor in Tennessee diagnosed meningitis in a patient that had received a steroid injection six weeks earlier. The CDC reports that both types of fungus grow very slowly and that “early in this outbreak, many patients with meningitis had only a few mild symptoms.”

Meningitis is an inflammation of the spinal cord and the dura mater, the tissue that surrounds the brain. Left undiagnosed and untreated, meningitis can be deadly and cause lifelong, debilitating conditions. Even when diagnosed and treated early, people with meningitis face a long and expensive road to recovery. Treatment can last for many months and requires infusions of two very strong antifungal drugs. While the drugs are the best method of treating fungal meningitis, they present their own health risks, including severe side effects such as kidney damage.

“Early identification and treatment of patients with fungal infections might reduce the risk for serious complications such as stroke or death,” the CDC says.

The Food and Drug Administration has also issued a statement in regards to the outbreak. They urge “patients who believe they received an injection or other product compounded by NECC to remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of infection, including meningitis. The signs and symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and altered mental status.”

Officials are still trying to determine how so many vials of the steroid methylprednisolone became contaminated at the New England Compounding Center, a pharmacy in Massachusetts. All the fungal meningitis cases have been linked to three tainted batches of the steroid made by the pharmacy.

Mr. Cunningham urges anyone who has received a steroid injection in the last several months to contact his or her physician immediately. If you have contracted fungal meningitis and would like to speak with an experienced Orlando product liability lawyer, call Mr. Cunningham today at 800-425-2004 to schedule a free consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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