The New England Compounding Center (NECC), based in Massachusetts, distributed more than 18,000 steroid shots to 23 states between the end of May and the end of September 2012. The steroid, methylprednisolone acetate (MPA), was injected into patients to treat back, neck and joint pain. It is believed 14,000 people received shots contaminated with mold, and later developed fungal meningitis as a result.
The fungal infections are part of the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak that, to date, has killed 48 people and sickened at least 720 with meningitis, spinal infections, strokes and peripheral joint infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging health care professionals to use continued vigilance for fungal infections among patients who received contaminated steroid shots from NECC.The CDC continues to receive new reports of fungal infection among patients who were given injections of contaminated MPA from NECC.
Most of the recent cases have been localized spinal or paraspinal infections such as epidural abscesses, although new cases of meningitis or arachnoiditis have also been reported. Arachnoiditis is a neuropathic disease caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the brain and spinal cord.
Many of the cases involve patients with minimal symptoms. The CDC is re-emphasizing the importance for health care professionals to remain vigilant for fungal infections in people who have received the shots, especially in patients with mild or even baseline symptoms.