US Health Experts: Rare Meningitis Outbreak May Spread

Posted October 4th, 2012 at 5:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. health authorities say a contaminated steroid suspected of causing five fatal cases of rare fungal meningitis may have been given to patients in 23 states.

The company that manufactured the suspect medicine, The New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, has been shut down. It has recalled the steroid. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a sealed vial at the company that was contaminated with a fungus. They are investigating if it is the same fungus that caused the meningitis outbreak.

Thirty-five people in six eastern states injected with the steroid for back pain have been infected. Five of them died. The CDC believes people in 23 states may have gotten contaminated injections.

Meningitis is a disease that infects membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord. There are five different types of meningitis. The current outbreak is caused by a fungus and doctors say it is a very rare form of the disease.

Others types are caused by bacteria, a virus or a parasite.