Earlier this week federal official released updated information on fungal meningitis infections which have affected hundreds across the country. Over the last two weeks we have discussed how this outbreak has spread across the country, with more and more involved patients identified. An NBC News report on Wednesday provided even more sad news. According to the story another four medical patients have died as a result of the fungal meningitis they contracted via the infected spinal steroid injections. That brings the total of deaths to nineteen. RIght now the total infected count is at 247–a significant growth from when we first started discussing this story at the beginning of the month. The sickest patients to start–which likely included some seniors–seemed to face the most trouble as a result of the meningitis.
Amazingly, we still may not be near the end of the outbreak. Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that the total number of infection is actually expected to rise even higher. That is because almost 17,000 vials of the steroid may have been sent out, with a majority of them actually used before they were recalled in late September.
National Call for Accountability
Considering the size and scope of the inident, it is not surprising that there have been calls from federal officials for clear answers on how something like this could have occurred. According to the latest story, several members of Congress have indicated that federal investigations will be invovled, but thus far no hearings have been called. Also, two U.S. Senators have written to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking for more information on what happened. In particular, the officials were concerend that the NECC plant in New England where the infection originated violated clear state and federal rules. In fact, the investigators who raided the compounding plant were taken about by the status of the facility and worried that other products at the plan might be problematic.
Reminders About the Meningitis Outbreak in Illinois
For those who are just learning about this outbreak, it is important to note that Illinois is one of the twenty three states in which the infected spinal injections were delivered–only nineteen have thus far reported infected patients. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health at least three clinics in the state actually dispersed the injections to the patients. That includes the APAC Lincoln Park, APAC facility in Westchester, and at the Thorek Memorial Hosptial in Chicago.
The IDPH noted that those who received the pain injection–given in the back–were identified and tested. Still, all those who may have been harmed in this outbreak should be aware of potential signs or symptoms of meningitis. This includes headache, fever, neck stiffness, slurred speech, weakness in one side of the body, and sensitivity to light. Those affected may not all be present in any different situation. Additionally, federal disease control officials have indicated that fungal meningitis does not immediately lead to clear symptoms in patients. Instead, it may develop slowly, with serious signs only much later.
If you or someone you know may have been harmed by this outbreak, please take a moment to contact our office. We are investigating the incident and working with those affected by this unprecedented outbreak. Obviously it is unacceptable for a medical patient to be harmed by pharmaceutical products made unsafely.
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