USA: Meningitis wave with four more deaths

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Contaminated drugs have already caused 19 meningitis deaths

The meningitis wave in the US has claimed four more lives. The number of people suffering from life-threatening meningitis (meningitis) due to the injection of a drug contaminated with fungi is currently increasing every day.

Nearly 250 patients with fungal meningitis (meningitis caused by fungal infections) were registered with the U.S. Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by Tuesday. The number of deaths has risen to 19. Those affected had received an analgesic injection into the spinal canal. The used steroid pain reliever from the manufacturer NECC from Massachusetts was apparently contaminated with fungi. These could then spread through the spinal fluid in the patient's organism and cause severe inflammation of the meninges.

Nineteen meningitis deaths to date The CDC and FDA (Federal Drug Administration) work closely together to clarify the current wave of meningitis and provide regular updates on the latest developments. 14 more cases of meningitis and four new meningitis deaths were reported on Tuesday. The number of patients suffering from meningitis after the injection of the NECC drug has thus risen to 245. Two other patients contracted less serious joint infections due to the injection, which are also listed in the CDC statistics. Overall, 247 US citizens have already suffered significant health problems from the contaminated pain reliever. Nineteen patients have died due to the spread of the drug.

Further rise in meningitis disorders expected in the United States The US Department of Health now lists 15 states from which meningitis cases have been reported after the pain medication was injected into the spinal canal. Deaths have been recorded in six states. Almost all of the affected states are located on the east coast of the USA. Tennessee (eight meningitis dead) has had the most deaths, followed by Florida (three meningitis dead) and Michigan (three meningitis dead). The experts estimate that a total of around 34,000 patients have received the contaminated drug, although only a maximum of five percent illness rate is assumed. According to this, a total of around 1,700 patients could develop fungal meningitis. However, it has so far been difficult to estimate whether this number will be maintained or possibly exceeded, since meningitis, according to the CDC, does not appear until one to four weeks after the contaminated drug is injected, sometimes even later.

Fungal Meningitis Not Contagious The US Department of Health and Human Rights describes symptoms such as headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting as typical signs of meningitis. In the case of fungal meningitis, “symptoms such as confusion, dizziness and discomfort with bright lights” may also be recorded, reports the CDC. All US citizens who experience such symptoms are asked to see a doctor. Doctors should also consider the possibility of fungal meningitis if there are signs of this, the US health agency reports. The only good news in connection with the current meningitis wave is that the meningitis caused by fungi cannot be transmitted from person to person.

The first lawsuit has already been filed against the manufacturer of the contaminated medication and a search of the company premises followed. It remains to be seen what extent the scandal will take. (fp)

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Image: Gerd Altmann /

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