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Update on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak From Contaminated Medication

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on November 29, 2012

Here is an update on the fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed at least 31 people across the country and sickened hundreds more. Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham has been following developments in this case very closely, as at least two Floridians have died from contaminated steroids and at least seven more have contracted the illness. Around 1,000 Floridians who received the contaminated steroids at clinics around our state are at risk for developing this potentially deadly disease. The tainted samples of methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid often prescribed for pain relief, came from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, and all vials of the drug have been recalled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The tainted drugs were injected in at least six pain clinics in Florida, including the Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery and three clinics in Ocala: Florida Pain Clinic, Marion Pain Management Center and Surgery Center of Ocala. Thus far, the most serious cases of fungal meningitis have occurred in patients who had epidural injections of the steroid for back pain, as the spinal injections allow the fungal strains direct access to the brain. The steroids are contaminated with two types of fungi: Aspergillis, usually found in moldy leaves, and Exserohilum, which is usually found in rotting wood. While patients who received epidural injections are at the most serious risk for developing fungal meningitis, researchers have confirmed cases where patients received injections in other parts of the body, including ankles, knees, elbows and other locations.

The incubation period for the fungi, the period of time between when the tainted drugs were injected and when disease symptoms begin to appear in patients, is at least one week and may be four or more weeks, according to CDC investigators. The CDC estimates that at least 14,000 people received tainted injections of the recalled steroid before the link between the outbreak and the source were discovered.

Here in Florida, the clinics that administered the contaminated drug are working closely with state health officials to alert patients who received injections. Each patient is being contacted by phone, mail or in person. Anyone who received a steroid injection this past summer or fall can contact the clinic where the procedure was performed to learn whether or not their injection came from one of the three contaminated lots of the drug. Florida health officials estimate that at least 95 percent of affected patients have been notified, including all nine patients in the Orlando area. Anyone who would like to learn more about the drug recall and the fungal meningitis outbreak can call 1-866-523-7339.

Obviously, this is a very serious problem, especially here in Florida where many patients who received the tainted steroid are elderly, with immune systems that are less able to fight a fungal infection. If you or a close relative have received one of the tainted injections and you would like to learn more about your rights and legal options, call Mr. Cunningham today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) to schedule a free consultation. He has nearly four decades of experience as an Orlando product liability lawyer and has a proven record of success helping people hurt by defective products.

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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