We’ve been keeping an eye on the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis which, according to the CDC, has now killed eight people, and sickened over 100. But until recently, there hasn’t been a firm estimate regarding how many people may have been infected by the steroid shots from a sketchy specialty pharmacy, so it’s been difficult to assess risk. Now, the AP is reporting that as many as 13,000 people may have been exposed.
Thus far, the only commonality between the 105 individuals who have been diagnosed with this rare, non-contagious form of meningitis are those who received steroid shots for back pain, which were distributed by a compound pharmacy in New England.
The pharmacy, it appears, was not supposed to be mixing up these specialty drug cocktails at such high volumes. As a result, they’ve recalled every single one of their products that’s currently in circulation. They’re notifying all clinics, hospitals, and other clients who may have purchased their products by fax.
It’s likely that these kinds of pharmacies, which aren’t strictly regulated by the FDA, will draw criticism and investigation when the outbreak is under control.
The cases of meningitis were initially thought to be contained to just a few states–but it turns out that New England Compounding Pharmacy was actually distributing far and wide. The map above comes courtesy of the CDC, and shows the states where contaminated shots may have been sold to medical facilities…and it’s not a small number. About 75 facilities in 23 states may have purchased and administered the potentially dangerous shots.
Not everyone who got a hot shot will get sick, the CDC is warning, but those who did should be on the watch for the following symptoms:
Patients have had symptoms generally starting from 1 to 4 weeks after their injection…Symptoms that should prompt patients to seek medical care include: fever, new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, new weakness or numbness, increasing pain, redness or swelling of the injection site.
Fungal meningitis is treatable when caught early, which is why health officials are blanketing news outlets and clinics with information–because if you think you received one of these shots, you should seek medical attention at the first sign of sickness.
If your state is listed on the map, you can check this list of medical facilities which purchased at least three lots of the contaminated steroid shots.
Image via the CDC