A second Illinois resident has been infected with fungal meningitis in the nationwide outbreak that has infected over 400 people in 19 states, killing 30, according to the CDC.
On November 2, the CDC’s case count was updated to confirm a second case of infection in Illinois.
The outbreak is the result of contaminated steroid injections produced by Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center..
The Illinois Department of Health and Human Services said that patients at three APAC Centers for Pain Management in the Chicago area were given the tainted injections for back pain. The centers are located in Chicago (at the Thorek Hospital professional building); Lincoln Park, and Westchester.
Fungal meningitis is rare. This complicates matters because few doctors are accustomed to dealing with it. It also tends to have a long incubation period. This means symptoms of the disease may take some time to become apparent following infection. Patients who received the tainted injections should immediately undergo testing for meningitis if they haven’t already done so.
However, because of the long incubation period, even those who previously tested negative need to remain vigilant in watching for symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, slurred speech, sensitivity to light, and numbness. Not all patients who develop meningitis will experience each of these symptoms.
Regulators suspect that the contamination problems at NECC’s Mass. facility may not be limited to spinal steroid shots. They warn that certain drugs used in open-heart surgery and eye surgeries may also have been contaminated. Regulators will have to trace thousands of drug vials originating from the facility to determine whether more patients are at risk.