Fungal meningitis in Mineola clinic steroids

The New England Compounding Center is shown here

The New England Compounding Center is shown here on October 5, 2012 in Framingham, Massachusetts. A Mineola sports medicine clinic is among 75 locations in the United States that bought steroids to treat back pain from NECC that were contaminated with a potentially deadly fungal meningitis, federal health officials said. (Credit: Getty Images)

A Mineola sports medicine clinic is among 75 locations in the United States that bought steroids to treat back pain that were contaminated with a potentially deadly fungal meningitis, federal health officials said.

Nationwide, seven people have died from the meningitis outbreak.

Action Sports Medicine and Pain Management on Old Country Road said 17 of its patients received the steroid for pain management via a lumbar epidural injection from Sept. 21 to Sept. 25. A statement from the clinic said it has been in touch with all of the patients and none "have reported any adverse reaction to the medication."

"We withdrew all stock of the methylprednisolone acetate in our possession immediately upon notification of the recall and handed them over to the FDA," the clinic said. "We are not using any other products from NECC," the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., that produced the tainted medicine.

Nationwide, 60 people in nine states -- Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio -- have contracted fungal meningitis, and seven of them have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All had received steroid shots, a highly common treatment for back pain.

The CDC said 75 clinics or hospitals in 23 states bought the contaminated medicine. In New York, they included two other clinics, in Mount Vernon and Rochester.

"All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately," said the CDC's Dr. Benjamin Park in a statement Friday. "It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate antifungal therapy, lives may be saved."

It became apparent Thursday that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people who got the shots between July and September could be at risk after officials revealed that a tainted steroid suspected to have caused a meningitis outbreak in the South had made its way to other locations around the country.

The time from infection to onset of symptoms is anywhere from a few days to a month, so the number of people stricken could rise.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common forms.

NECC has recalled three lots consisting of 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, Massachusetts health officials said. The company shut operations and said it is working with regulators to find the source of the infection.

Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious diseases specialist at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said he was "stunned" by the distribution of the tainted medicine. "It's so unbelievable to me," he said, adding that the fungus "is such a dangerous pathogen."

With AP

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