Meningitis Outbreak Could Become National Epidemic, Says CDC

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of cases of a rare and deadly form of meningitis in the U.S. has risen to 47, which is an increase of 21 confirmed cases since Wednesday. Michigan and North Carolina reported a total of three additional cases since the CDC update, bringing up the total to 50.

As of Friday, there have been five deaths in the seven states have been affected by the fungal outbreak: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The CDC predicts that the disease will affect as many as 23 states.

Investigators suspect that the outbreak is a result of contamination of methylprednisolone acetate steroid injections that are usually administered to patients who suffer from back pain. A total of 17,676 vials containing the steroids in question had been previously recalled last week. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., where the steroids were manufactured, has since shut down its operations.

Outbreaks, such as this, highlight the risks involved with compounding pharmacies. Unlike most other products, however, drugs from compounding pharmacies are often not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, hospitals and clinics will continue to use these products because of drug shortages in the U.S. that stem from delays and discontinuation, according to the FDA.

Signs of meningitis include nausea, vomiting, fever, neck pain, headaches, and neurological symptoms typically associated with strokes. According to the CDC, fungal meningitis is a non-transmissible from person to person, as opposed to bacterial and viral meningitis. However, because it is an airborne disease, inhaling fungal spores (which can be found in certain leaf molds) can result in infection as well.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Brittany Cheng

Proponent of peace. Loves Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians equally. Your party is just a label. It doesn't have to define you.

MORE FROM

Kremlin slams White House's warning of potential chemical attack in Syria

The U.S. and Russia continue to spar over Syria.

EU slaps Google with a record 2.42 billion euro fine

The tech giant has a hefty fine in its future.

Detroit judge halts deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals living in US

Many of the Iraqis are Chaldean Christians who reportedly voted for Trump.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Travel ban ruling, Health care opposition, Castile family settlement

All the important stories to get you caught up for Tuesday.

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

In tweets, Serena Williams shuts down John McEnroe's sexist comments 

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

Kremlin slams White House's warning of potential chemical attack in Syria

The U.S. and Russia continue to spar over Syria.

EU slaps Google with a record 2.42 billion euro fine

The tech giant has a hefty fine in its future.

Detroit judge halts deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals living in US

Many of the Iraqis are Chaldean Christians who reportedly voted for Trump.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Travel ban ruling, Health care opposition, Castile family settlement

All the important stories to get you caught up for Tuesday.

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

In tweets, Serena Williams shuts down John McEnroe's sexist comments 

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."