Patients who received contaminated shots for pain rush to emergency room for testing
Jim McGuire didn’t waste time going to the emergency room after his doctor called to tell him he had received a steroid shot from a contaminated batch that – to date – has killed 12 people and infected 137 others with a rare fungal meningitis. Jim wasn’t experiencing symptoms, but it can take a month or more for symptoms of the infection to appear. Investigators have learned that as many as 13,000 people in 23 states may have been exposed to the fungus. The only way for people to find out if they are at risk is to have a spinal tap.
“It was kind of a chaos in the emergency room,” he told ABC News. “The triage for this was incredible. There were beds lined up in the hallway. As soon as one spinal tap was over, they were pushing another one in.” It took hours for the tests results to come in. Jim ultimately learned he was meningitis-free. But the test and the wait were equally excruciating.
The tainted steroid shot that Jim and thousands of other pain management patients received was produced by New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. Compounding pharmacies custom-mix drugs for patients, doctors and medical facilities. The drug ingredients are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but compounds produced by these pharmacies are not. Compounding drugs can open the door for contamination if the work is not performed in a sterile environment.
Meningitis is a life threatening infection that is caused by an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spine and brain. It can cause painful headaches, nausea, dizziness, and, if left untreated, can cause permanent neurological damage and death. The most common forms of meningitis are caused by bacteria or viruses. Fungal meningitis is not spread person-to-person, but it is extremely rare and can be hard to diagnose and treat.
Source: ABC News
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