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Brain Infection May Affect Thousands — Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

Community health officials in nearly two dozens states, including Illinois, are warning local residents of a new outbreak that can be deadly. As discussed recently in a Reuters story, thousands of vials of an epidural painkiller may have been infected with a rare strain of meningitis. Over 100 people have already been infected, eight have died, and thousands more may be at risk.

It goes without saying that all local residents should take this issue seriously to ensure they receive the treatment they need if they are affected by the recalled drug.

The Meningitis Outbreak
The problem stems from a “compounding pharmacy.” The pharmacy takes drugs created elsewhere and makes them into products in the correct dosages to be used by medical facilities. Obviously, since the company sends material out to be used on actual patients, if errors are made that make those drugs dangerous, then thousands of patients may unsuspectingly face serious health risks as a result of products that are supposed to make them healthier.

In this case, over 17,600 vials of a steroid known as methylprednisolone acetate were sent out to nearly two dozens states, including Illinois. Those vials were exposed to a rare fungal meningitis. All told, officials suspect that as many as 13,000 patients may have been exposed.

Brain Infection – Fungal Meningitis
Fungal Meningitis is an infection that affects the spine and the brain. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the symptoms of the infection include fever, headache, nausea, and neck pain. Also, some symptoms similar to a stroke may actually be a sign of the infection. That includes slurred speech or weakness to one side of the body
The CDC notes that Fungal Meningitis is not contagious. Instead it spreads through a body as a result of the fungus being introduced to the body directly into the central nervous system–like via contaminated steroid injections into the back.

To properly identify fungal meningitis, the CDC notes that blood or fluid samples near the spinal cord need to be assessed. Lab tests are then conducted to both test the presence of the fungus and, if it is present, identify the specific type of fungus. This detailed testing is critical, because treatment may vary depending on what type of fungus is in the body and affecting the patient.

Experts note that the main treatment plan for those affected involves high doses of antifungal medications The medications are usually given intravenously while at the hospital. The strength of the patient’s immune system is critical in these cases–the stronger the better. Those with weaker immune systems, like patients with cancer, diabetes, or AIDS are most at risk. The length of the antifungal treatments hinges of that immune system strength.

All residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois should be aware of this meningitis outbreak and act immediately if you suspect fungal meningitis. It is always better to be cautious than take risks in these situations. Seek medical help as soon as possible.

Also, all those affected are well served by visiting a legal professional to ensure their legal rights are protected. It is obviously unacceptable for medical patients to face a potentially-fatal brain injection as a result of drugs received at a medical facility. Those involved be held accountable for their conduct, and those affected should receive compensation for their losses.

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