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FDA Investigates Two More Drugs for Meningitis Contamination

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News about meningitis continues to flood the news waves. Recent reports state that officials are investigating two more drugs thought to be at the heart of the outbreak that has sickened hundreds and killed at least 15. The FDA recently announced that it is investigating two more drugs manufactured by the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy responsible for the distribution of the steroid pain injections contaminated with meningitis. One of the drugs includes triamcinolone acetonide, which is given as an epidural injection prior to open-heart surgery to paralyze the cardiac muscles.

The outbreak has been linked to fungal contamination with the mold Exserohilum rostratum. Reports have provided detailed information about who is at the highest risk of contracting fungal meningitis. First, fungal meningitis is a rare form of the disease that travels through the bloodstream to the spinal cord. The disease causes swelling or inflammation of the meninges or the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Warning signs include headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, hallucinations and lower-than-normal temperature. Anyone is at risk for contracting fungal meningitis, but it is more likely to strike those with compromised immune systems.

As of Monday, there were a total of 214 cases of fungal meningitis with 15 who have died as a result of complications. At first, the FDA urged doctors to contact any patients who received the steroid pain injections but expanded that to include any injections made by the company, the New England Compounding Center.