Meningitis victims in recovery experiencing “second” illness

UPI.com just reported on another startling development in the meningitis outbreak being played out all over the U.S. for patients who received injections of methylprednisolon acetetate – a steroid commonly used to combat back and/or neck pain. Apparently, meningitis victims who are in recovery are finding themselves afflicted with a second illness identified as an epidermal abscess:

Meningitis patients struck by 2nd illness

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Nov. 3 (UPI) — People recovering from a meningitis outbreak caused by a contaminated steroid drug have been struck by a second illness, officials say.

The new problem, called an epidural abscess, was caused by the same steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, which was injected into patients to treat back or neck pain, The New York Times reported Friday.

Epidural abscesses are a localized infection affect the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. They formed in patients who were taking powerful anti-fungal medicines to fight meningitis, putting them back in the hospital for more treatment, often with surgery.

“We’re hearing about it in Michigan and other locations as well,” said Dr. Tom M. Chiller, deputy chief of the mycotic diseases branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We don’t have a good handle on how many people are coming back.”

More than 400 cases have been reported nationwide.

Doctors are trying to figure out how to best treat patients with epidural abscesses.

“We are just learning about this and trying to assess how best to manage these patients. They’re very complicated,” Chiller said.

The meningitis outbreak, first discovered in late September, was caused by steroids made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. Three contaminated lots of the drug — more than 17,000 vials — were shipped around the country, and about 14,000 people were injected with the drug.

Twenty-nine people have died, often from strokes caused by the infection.

An inspection of the compounding facility, which has since been shut down, uncovered extensive black mold contamination. The company, along with another Massachusetts company, Ameridose, which was also shut down, has recalled its products.

Earlier we posted about the legal ramifications and/or financial burden caused by the meningitis outbreak – now this new development of a second illness for those already facing danger adds another unknown into the mix. We hope that the 400 or so reported cases of epidural abscess does not continue to rise.

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