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Steroid Meningitis Outbreak

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak from Tainted Steroidal Back Injections

A steroidal back injection produced at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy has been linked to a multi-state fungal meningitis outbreak that has left 39 dead and more than 600 infected in 19 states. The FDA has ordered a recall on all drugs, including the steroidal back injection (Methylprednisolone Acetate), produced at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.


  • The meningitis outbreak has been linked to three contaminated lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate, an epidural steroid injection.
  • The injections were produced exclusively at New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.
  • Distribution has been confirmed in 23 states; however, it is possible that products were sent to additional states.
  • As of December 20, 2012, 620 people had been diagnosed with infections related to the recalled shots.
  • A majority of those affected developed signs/symptoms of meningitis after receiving Methylprednisolone Acetate injections in the spine.
  • At least nine people suffered fungal infections related to Methylprednisolone Acetate injected into joints including the ankle.
  • A number of them are now displaying additional serious spinal infections, including epidural abscesses and arachnoiditis.
  • 39 people have died as a result of the outbreak.


  • On October 6, 2012, the FDA issued a Safety Statement regarding the Fungal Meningitis Outbreak.
    • FDA officials detected fungal infectivity in an unopened vial of methylprednisolone from one of three lots of 80-milligram injection doses recalled by the New England Compounding Center.
    • As a result, the FDA recommended that health care professionals and consumers not use any product that was produced by NECC.
  • On October 15, 2012, the FDA issued an additional Patient Notification Statement regarding the Fungal Meningitis Outbreak.
    • FDA officials warned that an additional NECC product, triamcinolone acetonide, had been linked to a case of fungal meningitis.
    • The FDA is also investigating steroids and drugs from NECC used in eye surgery and heart operations.

Information below provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Fungal meningitis is usually the result of the spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord or as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system.
  • Fungal Meningitis is not contagious but can be deadly if not promptly treated.
  • Signs/symptoms can appear anywhere from 14-42 days following steroid injection and may include:
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Stiff neck
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
    • Altered mental status


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