Meningitis Outbreak Toll Now 33 Dead, 480 Sickened, CDC Says

Lawmakers, pharmacy representatives wrangled this week in Congressional hearings

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Hamburg said problems uncovered in past inspections were "very serious," but that the FDA, under current law, was obligated to defer to Massachusetts authorities, who have more direct oversight over pharmacies in the state, the AP reported.

Last month, FDA investigators who toured the New England Compounding Center's Framingham plant found foreign, "greenish-black" material in some vials of the injectable steroid suspected as the cause of the illnesses, federal health officials said. The contaminated product was one of a host of potential violations discovered during the recent inspection, the officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday had the following state-by-state breakdown of cases: Florida: 23 cases, including 3 deaths; Georgia, 1 case; Idaho, 1 case; Illinois, 2 cases; Indiana: 55 cases, including 5 deaths; Maryland: 23 cases, including 1 death; Michigan: 158 cases, including 8 deaths; Minnesota: 13 cases; New Hampshire: 13 cases; New Jersey: 31 cases; New York: 1 case; North Carolina: 3 cases, including 1 death; Ohio: 17 cases; Pennsylvania: 1 case; Rhode Island: 3 cases; South Carolina: 1 case; Tennessee: 82 cases, including 13 deaths; Texas: 2 cases; Virginia: 50 cases, including 2 deaths.

Eleven of the 480 cases involve what the CDC calls "peripheral joint infection," meaning an infection in a knee, hip, shoulder or elbow. These joint infections aren't considered as dangerous as injections near the spine for back pain that have been linked to the potentially fatal meningitis infections.

The CDC and state health departments estimate that roughly 14,000 patients may have gotten steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center. All of the fungal meningitis patients identified so far were thought to be injected with the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, according to the CDC.

People who have had a steroid injection since July, and have any of the following symptoms, should talk to their doctor as soon as possible: worsening headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, new weakness or numbness in any part of your body or slurred speech, the CDC said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about injections for back pain.

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