Watch List of Drugs Expands in Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

By: Andy Alcock, Associated Press Email
By: Andy Alcock, Associated Press Email
As of Noon on October 19th, there have been 257 confirmed cases from tainted steroids across the country. There have been 20 deaths.

This photo provided Oct. 9, 2012, by the Minnesota Department of Health shows shows vials of the injectable steroid product made by New England Compounding Center implicated in a fungal meningitis outbreak that were being shipped to the CDC from Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Minnesota Department of Health)

There's a new expanding list of drugs on a watch list after a national fungal meningitis outbreak.

A representative for the Georgia Department of Health says the Food and Drug Administration expanded its list as a precaution. However, she points there has been no confirmed connections of fungal meningitis from drugs on the expanded list.

To date, there have been 257 confirmed cases from tainted steroids across the country. There have been 20 deaths. There have been 13 cases in Florida and three deaths. However, none of them have been in our area. State leaders say 8 medical facilities in Florida have received contaminated drugs from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts. But none of them are in our area. Additionally there have no confirmed reports of any cases or deaths related to the outbreak in Georgia.

It's important to note the fungal meningitis cases are NOT contagious.
However, the Centers for Disease Control estimates about 14-thousand patients may have received injections from the three confirmed contaminated steroid shipments. Agency leaders say 97 percent of those people have been contacted for further follow up.

The death toll has reached 15 in a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

As of today, there are 214 reported cases in 15 states, the latest state to report a case of the disease was Illinois.

Health officials have broadened their warning to doctors about other medicines made by the specialty pharmacy linked to the outbreak.

The food and drug administration took the step today because of reports of new illnesses that may be tied to other products.

Atlanta, GA - October 14, 2012 - At the main campus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dozens of people are working day and night to bring a meningitis outbreak under control.

Dr. John Jernigan is a medical epidemiologist at the CDC leading the clinical investigation team for the outbreak response. He says this infection, which is caused by a fungus, is very unusual.

Meningitis is typically caused by a virus or bacteria. The fungus linked to this outbreak is common in dirt and grasses, but it is making people sick because it found its way into a steroid injected into people with back pain.

That steroid was distributed by a Massachusetts pharmacy that is currently under investigation. Nearly 200 people in more than a dozen states have been sickened, including 15 who have died.

Atlanta, GA (AP) -- Health officials say they have now confirmed more than 90 cases of a rare fungal meningitis that has been linked to a steroid commonly used to ease back pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted updated figures to its website Sunday. The death toll stood at 7, the same number as a day earlier. The outbreak is spread across nine states, the same states reported Saturday: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

The CDC figures show there are 91 cases in the U.S. altogether.

The steroid linked to the outbreak has been recalled, and health officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have received an injection of it. The Massachusetts pharmacy that made it has said it is cooperating with investigators.

AP-WF-10-07-12 1840GMT

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