CDC issues new fungal meningitis health alert

A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health alert reported that the number of fungal meningitis cases in the United States more than doubled over the weekend.

The CDC said there are now 105 confirmed cases of the illness, caused by a tainted batch of steroids shipped from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts. There were three additional deaths from the illness, bringing the death toll to eight, according to CIDRAP News.

Minnesota and Ohio reported their first cases, raising the number of states involved in the outbreak to nine.

The CDC released a list of 75 healthcare facilities in 23 states that received the contaminated steroids from the New England Compounding Center. Pain clinics were using the steroids for injections in and around the spinal cord, CIDRAP News reports.

The infections are not considered contagious, but the resulting illness has been severe in some cases and has caused strokes in some patients. Other patients have only had mild symptoms.

No other NECC products have been shown to be linked to the outbreak, but the facility ordered a recall that includes all of its other products from the same facility. The CDC has not asked clinicians to inform patients who were treated with other products from the facility not directly linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak.

The CDC recently expanded its warning to include patients who received injections after May 21, with any of the lots included in the recall. Its previous warning only included injections administered since July, according to CIDRAP News.