DHHS Assisting in Recall of Medication from Pharmacy Associated With Multistate Outbreak of Fungal Meningitis

By: 10/11 News
By: 10/11 News
Nebraska public health officials are carefully monitoring the multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections linked to contaminated steroid injections manufactured by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

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)

Nebraska public health officials are carefully monitoring the multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections linked to contaminated steroid injections manufactured by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. As of now, Nebraska has no cases tied to this outbreak and there’s no indication that any of the contaminated products were distributed in the state.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled the implicated steroid medication and all other medications manufactured by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that 29 health care facilities in the state received some of the other recalled medications manufactured by NECC.

“The products received in Nebraska have been recalled but are not the products currently implicated in the outbreak,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. “DHHS is working with local health departments to contact health care providers to remind them of the recall and encourage them to follow up with patients who received an injectable NECC product after May 21, 2012 and review their cases. This is being done out of an abundance of caution.”

Outbreak background – The CDC and FDA continue to coordinate a multistate investigation of fungal meningitis and joint infection among patients who received a contaminated steroid injection prepared by NECC either to the spinal area or in a joint space like a knee, shoulder or ankle. There are 257 cases and 20 deaths associated with this outbreak spanning 16 states according to the CDC. Federal health officials haven’t determined the original source of the outbreak; however it has been linked to three lots of injectable steroid medication. The contaminated medication has been recalled as well as all medication made by NECC.

Meningitis is the swelling of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The swelling is usually caused by bacteria or viral infection but it can also be caused by fungus. This is called fungal meningitis. The types of fungus identified in this outbreak are Exsrohilum, Aspergillus and Cladosporium. Fungal meningitis is not contagious. Treatment is long courses of high dose antifungal medications, usually given by IV in the hospital.


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