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CDC: Thousands exposed to meningitis-linked steroid injection

If you or a loved one has been affected by the outbreak of meningitis, contact Attorney Dean Gresham today to protect your rights. Free initial consultation.

An update released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the number of confirmed meningitis cases and deaths related to the outbreak garnered widespread media coverage.

ABC World News (10/8, story 4, 0:30, Sawyer) reported, "Now we move to the outbreak of meningitis: 105 confirmed cases now in 9 states; and at least eight people have died."

The CBS Evening News (10/8, lead story, 3:00, Pelley) reported, "Today Federal officials estimated 13,000 Americans received steroid injections that may have been contaminated with a potentially lethal fungus." CBS (LaPook) added, "The Centers for Disease Control believes the majority will not get sick; and Dr. William Schaffner agrees." LaPook explained that Dr. Schaffner "has been tracking the outbreak at the Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville." Dr. Schaffner was shown saying: "If there's a bit of a silver lining in this dark cloud it's that apparently the attack rate, the proportion of people actually developing an infection, is very small. It's really about 1% or less."

Bloomberg News (10/9, Edney, Hart) reports that the Food and Drug Administration linked the meningitis outbreak to contaminated methylprednisolone acetate injection produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. The NECC issued a statement Monday, saying it is "cooperating with probes" underway by the both the FDA and the CDC.

ABC News (10/9, Lupkin, Moisse) on its online Health page notes that the FDA linked the meningitis outbreak to aspergillus fungi in a "sealed vial of the steroid" at the NECC. However, the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Compliance Acting Director Dr. Ilisa Bernstein said the agency is still "in the process of further identifying the fungal contaminate. Our investigation into the source of this outbreak is still ongoing," Dr. Bernstein emphasized.

CNN (10/9, Cohen, Falco) on its website adds that the NECC "said that the new recall was being announced out of an abundance of caution and that there is no indication any of its other products are contaminated." Previously, the FDA "asked doctors, clinics and consumers to stop using any of the pharmacy's products"; and on Oct. 3, the NECC "voluntarily surrendered its license to operate until the FDA investigation into the contamination is complete." In the meantime, the agency is "urging anyone who has experienced problems following an injection with the NECC product to report it to MedWatch."

According to Reuters (10/9, Ghianni), Federal health authorities and the Massachusetts Department of Health said that from May to September, the NECC shipped three lots of potentially contaminated methylprednisolone acetate injections to 76 pain clinics and other healthcare facilities in 23 states. The CDC estimates about 13,000 patients could have received the tainted injections of methylprednisolone acetate for back or neck pain.

The New York Times (10/9, A14, Grady, Subscription Publication) says Federal health officials estimate of "how many people were injected with any of the 17,676 doses shipped around the country, is based on reports from state health departments and clinics" that used methylprednisolone acetate. Meanwhile, the NECC has "shut down, surrendered its license and recalled all its products, not just the steroid." At present, it is "not known if all the vials of medicine in the implicated lots were contaminated with the disease-causing fungus, or if everyone exposed to it will become ill," but CDC spokesperson Curtis Allen "predicted that most exposed people would not become sick."

On its front page, the Boston Globe (10/9, A1, McCabe) adds that the NECC shipped the potentially tainted injections to "facilities in California; Connecticut; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Maryland; Michigan; Minnesota; North Carolina; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Nevada; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Virginia; Texas; and West Virginia," according to the CDC.

The Washington Post (10/9, Sun, Somashekhar) reports that the CDC's update indicates "105 cases of meningitis linked to the injections have been reported"; and 23 of the 105 cases are in Virginia; and "one person has died" in Virginia.