This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study that gave a more complete account of the fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) injections from last fall. The study appeared today in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to Dr. John Jernigan, member of the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion and author of the study, this is the “first detailed look at the early clinical course of patients involved in this outbreak.”
More than Meningitis
Since September 2012, the contaminated drugs from New England Compounding Center (NECC) have caused at least 750 people in 20 different states to develop serious illnesses and/or infections. Sixty four of them have died. Although we refer to it as the meningitis outbreak, the infections were not limited to meningitis. According to Jernigan and his colleagues, the contaminated drugs caused a number of conditions ranging from mild to life-threatening to fatal. The pattern of disease varied over time, with meningitis cases reported earlier in the outbreak and noncentral nervous system diseases presenting later on.