A Massachusetts specialty pharmacy has supplied steroid injections that are suspected to be the cause of the fungal meningitis outbreak in the South. Girard Gibbs LLP has opened an investigation into the reports of fungal meningitis after having received a steroid shot for back pain.
The use of steroid injections for back pain is a highly common treatment. The contaminated steroid shots are suspected of causing meningitis, the inflammation of the spinal cord and the lining of the brain. Early symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness, and fever. If left untreated, the disease can cause permanent neurological damage and death.
Health officials believe that the steroid injections have made their way to about 75 clinics in 23 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are already 35 people in six states – Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana –who have contracted fungal meningitis after having received steroid injections for back pain and of those, 5 have already died.
This has led to an NECC steroid recall. But although the 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate that are suspected to be contaminated have been recalled, many have already been used. Some clinics report that as many as 500 patients have received shots from the suspect vials.