Health experts draft treatment guidelines for fungal meningitis outbreak as number of cases climbs
Interim treatment guidelines for people exposed to potentially contaminated steroid products have been drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a way to help understand important clinical questions, such as optimal medications, dosage, and duration of treatment. The guidelines are for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, physician assistants and other clinicians.
To date, the number of cases of fungal infections connected to the outbreak climbed to 328, and the death toll remained steady at 24. All the deaths and all but five of the infections are cases of fungal meningitis, stroke due to presumed fungal meningitis, or a similar central nervous system infections. The remaining five cases are of fungal infections in peripheral joints such as the knee, hip, shoulder or elbow.
The fungal infection outbreak has been traced back to steroid shots that were made by New England Compounding Center. The shots are most commonly injected into the spine to treat back or neck pain. They are also less frequently injected into joints to relieve joint pain.
Nearly 18,000 of the contaminated steroid shots were distributed to health care facilities in 23 states. An estimated 14,000 people were given the shots and may be at risk for infection. To date, cases of fungal infections have been confirmed in 18 states.
Almost all patients who received shots from the confirmed contaminated batches have been notified and instructed to seek medication attention if they experience symptoms of meningitis or infection, even if they are mild. Symptoms of meningitis include severe headache, nausea, dizziness, stiff neck and sensitivity to light. Signs of infection include pain and swelling at the injection site.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and brain. Fungal meningitis is extremely rare but can be treated with antifungal medications. If left untreated it can cause permanent neurological damage and death.
- Number of fungal meningitis cases continues to climb, death toll holds steady at 23
- Fungal meningitis death toll, infections continue to rise
- Death toll rises to 20, infections to 254 in fungal meningitis outbreak
- Symptoms of fungal meningitis linked to outbreak can be mild or appear suddenly
- Man who lost wife to fungal meningitis is now treated for same infection