US tainted drug outbreak rises to 185 cases

October 12, 2012

The number of people believed to have been sickened by a contaminated drug rose to 185 Friday, but US health officials said the death toll from the rare meningitis outbreak held steady at 14.

Texas has now reported its first case, the 12th state affected by the outbreak tied to a steroid typically injected into the spine to treat back pain.

Health officials have notified most of the 14,000 people in 23 states who may have received tainted doses of the steroid. But it could be weeks or even months before authorities have a final tally of the infections, because the deadly fungal infection has such a long .

The outbreak has led to calls for tighter regulation of the loosely controlled pharmaceutical compounding industry.

Critics said have found a way to sidestep costly and strict oversight by classifying themselves as pharmacies, which are given freer rein to mix for patients.

Among the hardest hit states were Tennessee, with 50 cases and six deaths, Michigan, with 41 cases and three deaths, Virginia, with 33 cases and one death and Indiana, with 24 cases and one death, according to the latest tally by the .

The rare —which inflames the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord—often goes undetected until it is too late, because its flu-like symptoms can be mild at first.

Treatment requires a lengthy hospital stay and intravenous anti-fungal medications. But meningitis is not contagious in this form.

US health officials launched an investigation after the first case was discovered in September, finding fungal contaminants in steroids produced by the New England Compounding Center.

The Massachusetts-based company subsequently issued a voluntary recall of all of its products and shut down all operations.

Explore further: US pharmacy linked to outbreak issues wide recall

Related Stories

US pharmacy linked to outbreak issues wide recall

October 7, 2012

(AP)—The pharmacy that distributed a steroid linked to an outbreak of fungal meningitis has issued a voluntary recall of all of its products, calling the move a precautionary measure.

7 dead in spreading US meningitis outbreak

October 8, 2012

At least seven people have died and 91 have fallen ill in the United States in a worsening meningitis outbreak tied to a contaminated drug, updated figures showed Sunday.

Tainted drug death toll rises to 14 in US

October 11, 2012

The death toll from a deadly meningitis outbreak in the United States blamed on a tainted drug rose to 14 Thursday as the number of cases jumped to 172 in 11 states, health officials said.

US warns meningitis cases could rise

October 12, 2012

US authorities have managed to contact most of the thousands of people exposed to the tainted drug blamed for a meningitis outbreak that has killed 14, but warned the number of infections could rise.

Recommended for you

Ebola virus mutations may help it evade drug treatment

September 11, 2015

Genetic mutations called "escape variants" in the deadly Ebola virus appear to block the ability of antibody-based treatments to ward off infection, according to a team of U.S. Army scientists and collaborators. Their findings, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.