(NaturalNews) The New England Compounding Center has recalled its stock of a steroid after an outbreak of fungal meningitis has spread across nine states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been attempting to alert any patients who may have been injected with the contaminated steroid, and thus far, 91 cases have been identified.
This particular steroid is methylprednisolone acetate. It is most commonly used as a treatment for the pain and swelling correlated with arthritis; however, it also has its uses to battle blood disorders, severe allergies, and even some cancers.
Complaints about New England Compounding Center have gone all the way back to 2002 regarding their sterilization procedures.
From July to September, 52,848 vials were reported to have been shipped from the center in Framingham, MA to 76 treatment facilities in 23 states. Unfortunately, most of these vials are still unaccounted for, so it is expected that more cases will surface during the investigation despite the recall. It is important; therefore, that potentially infected patients identify their symptoms and begin antifungal therapy to try and avoid some consequences of an onset of meningitis.
Thankfully, fungal meningitis is not contagious. It is the result of a fungus being introduced into the central nervous system and spreading through the bloodstream. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (known as photophobia), and an altered mental status. It is usually treated with long courses of high dose antifungal medications via an IV. Treatment length is determined by the patient's immune system and the type of fungus that had caused the infection. Longer treatment is often necessary for those with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS, diabetes, or cancer.
Of 91 cases around the country, there have been seven deaths thus far. The CDC urges those who may have been injected with the contaminated product to seek a professional opinion and, if necessary, treatment if they are exhibiting symptoms of fungal meningitis.
The New England Compounding Center has voluntarily suspended operations during the investigation. They are cooperating with investigators to find out what the source of the meningitis in their product is. The vials of the preservative-free steroid were sealed, leaving the only possible cause to be associated with the New England Compounding Center.
Facilities with the contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate in stock have been notified and asked to quarantine the product as a precaution. Furthermore, the FDA is taking a precautious route by pressing healthcare providers to discontinue the use of any NECC products.