October 13, 2012
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is today announcing four cases related to the national outbreak of fungal meningitis associated with steroid medication produced by New England Compounding Center (NECC) of Framingham, Massachusetts. The cases under investigation include three males and one female, all between 40 and 60 years of age. All cases are under care and are being monitored.
The medication believed to be linked to the illnesses here in New Hampshire and nationwide are three lots of methylprednisolone acetate used for injections for pain management. To date, nationally there have been 197 cases, including 14 deaths in 15 states.
NECC has voluntarily recalled all products it produced since January of 2012. However, all cases so far have resulted after injections with products from the original three lots.
“This has been a very difficult time for patients and healthcare providers affected by this outbreak,” said New Hampshire’s Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “Our thoughts are with these patients and their families as they deal with the complicated circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident.”
In New Hampshire the medication believed to be related to this outbreak was only distributed to Pain Care LLC’s Somersworth, Merrimack, and Newington locations. Pain Care, LLC has identified 741 patients who may have been exposed to the recalled product. DPHS is working with Pain Care, LLC to ensure that all patients potentially exposed are notified.
Patients diagnosed with this infection as part of this outbreak may present with fungal meningitis, epidural abscess, stroke or joint symptoms associated with the injected medication. The investigation remains active and information on cases continues to be gathered to understand the extent of this outbreak.
There are many different types of meningitis, a general term for an infection or inflammatory process involving the lining of the brain and central nervous system. The cases under investigation have no relation to the much more common forms of bacterial or viral meningitis. This particular form of meningitis cannot be passed from person to person, but can be very serious, even fatal.
Symptoms to be aware of include: headache, fever, nausea, stiff neck and sensitivity to light and in this type of meningitis symptoms may be or have been mild in some cases. The CDC is recommending that patients who feel ill with the above symptoms or have weakness or numbness in any part of the body or slurred speech after receiving this medication should contact their healthcare provider. Also patients who received injection of the medication to joints should report to their provider if they have local symptoms including increased pain, redness or warmth at the site of the injection.