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Meningitis from Steroid Injections

October 9th, 2012

It’s one of the worst kinds of medical stories: Contaminated products causing serious illness and deaths.

According to an article on WRAL.com, as many as 13,000 people received injections of a steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) contaminated with a fungus that causes meningitis. While that number includes all people who got injections in any location, the only patients at risk of developing fungal meningitis are those who got a  shot in their spine to relieve back pain.

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 105 people developed meningitis after receiving an injection with the contaminated steroid, and nine people have died. Two of the confirmed cases of meningitis are in North Carolina.

According to an article in the News & Observer, only three health facilities in North Carolina have used the contaminated product:

  1. N.C. Orthopedic Center in Durham (which only injected the steroid into joints, not the spine)
  2. High Point Surgery Center
  3. The Surgery Center of Wilson

Representatives from the High Point and Wilson locations say that all the patients who had been injected with the recalled batches of steroid had been notified–that was 70 patients in High Point and 26 patients in Wilson.

Patients who received shots of the contaminated product but who aren’t yet sick are not necessarily safe. Meningitis can take weeks to develop, and the CDC expects more cases to develop. Symptoms may include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The CDC said many of the cases have been mild, and some people had strokes.

The company responsible for the contamination–New England Compounding Center of Framingham, MA–has recalled all lots of the steroid, and everything else it makes, too.

“While there is no indication at this time of any contamination in other NECC products, this recall is being taken as a precautionary measure,” the company said in a statement.

HensonFuerst is doing its own investigation into the extent of the contamination, and would be interested in hearing from anyone who became sick after receiving a steroid injection at one of the clinics listed above. Feel free to call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED. We’ll keep you informed as more details become available.

To read the full story on WRAL.com, click here:  13,000 got suspect steroid shots

To read the full story in the News & Observer, click here:  No meningitis cases among patients at Durham clinic