Published Date: 2012-10-08 14:01:39
Subject: PRO/EDR> Aspergillus meningitis - USA (05)
Archive Number: 20121008.1330309
ASPERGILLUS MENINGITIS - USA (05)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sun 7 Oct 2012
Source: CBS News, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]
Health officials say they have now confirmed 91 cases of a rare fungal meningitis that has been linked to a [cortico]steroid commonly used to ease back pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted updated figures to its website on Sun 7 Oct 2012. The death toll stood at 7, the same number as a day earlier.
The steroid linked to the outbreak has been recalled, and health officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have received an injection of it. On Sat 6 Oct 2012, the pharmacy that distributed the steroid, meant for back pain, has issued a voluntary recall of all of its products. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, announced in a news release that the move was taken out of an abundance of caution because of the risk of contamination. It says there is no indication that any other products have been contaminated. The Food and Drug Administration had previously told health professionals not to use any products distributed by the center.
The outbreak is spread across 9 states, the same states previously reported.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal, from Connecticut, is calling for stronger government oversight of so-called "compounding pharmacies". Blumenthal said on Sun 7 Oct 2012, that he will be writing to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg to ask for stricter scrutiny of such pharmacies. He said the facilities appear to operate in a "regulatory black hole" and are only marginally overseen by the FDA. Blumenthal says he will be proposing more authority for the FDA in such cases, if needed.
[As the number of cases reported continues to grow, it has not been stated if one or more species of _Aspergillus_ is involved and how many cases involved the 2nd fungus, _Exserohilum_. The increase in cases occurring so rapidly is in part due to "look back" programs to follow up on patients who were treated with the contaminated medication.
The health care facilities to which the product had been distributed can be found on a list at http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-facilities-map.html.
An excellent, long overview, including a discussion on the role of compounding pharmacies, can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/us/scant-drug-maker-oversight-in-meningitis-outbreak.html?pagewanted=all. - Mod.LL
A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/r/1hiS.]