Philadelphia Products Liability Attorneys: Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Causing Distress throughout the Nation
October 16, 2012
By Debra A. Jensen, Esq.
The products liability attorneys at the personal injury law firm of Galfand Berger in Philadelphia are troubled to report that a medication intended to help people in pain has been contaminated with a fungus that can cause patients to develop a serious illness. Many individuals have fallen ill with fungal meningitis and sadly some of them have already succumbed to the disease. Thousands of more people are at risk for developing this rare form of meningitis. This latest outbreak is gaining much attention throughout the country leaving many Americans worried about their own health or that of their loved ones.
Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Contaminated Spinal Steroid Injections
The meningitis outbreak has now reached across fifteen states including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Idaho, Maryland, and New Jersey (10 cases). As of this posting, the death toll has reached 15 with an additional 233 patients sickened from the recent meningitis outbreak, which has been linked to a steroid drug that had been contaminated with a fungus. The steroid medication, methylprednisolone acetate, was used as a painkiller for those suffering from back pain. It was administered to patients through a spinal injection. Unfortunately, it is believed that this widening epidemic outbreak may continue to escalate because as many as 13,000 patients could have been injected with the steroid.
The tainted drug has been linked back to a compound pharmacy known as the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. It is at this facility that the injections were compounded into proper doses and then shipped out to at least 75 clinics across 23 states in the country including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Apparently something went amiss at this facility that allowed the fungus to contaminate the pharmaceuticals. The company voluntarily recalled all of its products and has shut down operations at the facility. Investigations as to how this contamination occurred are underway.
What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes called meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord. Several different infectious agents including viruses, bacteria or fungi can cause meningitis. Early detection and treatment is the key to better outcomes and survival. Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis and the least severe. It usually resolves without specific treatment. Bacterial forms of meningitis are the most serious and can cause significant complications and disabilities if not treated quickly. This type of meningitis is contagious. Meningitis caused by a fungal infection is extremely rare but serious and requires urgent medical attention. It is important to know that this type of meningitis is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another.
Be Aware of the Symptoms Associated with Fungal Meningitis
Two different types of fungus, Aspergillus and Exserohilum, have been identified in the sickened patients. Once a patient receives a dose of the contaminated steroid, the fungus can travel from the injection site near the spine to the brain causing the inflammation and infection. The initial symptoms of fungal meningitis may appear in a gradual, subtle manner. The symptoms associated with this disease include headache, neck stiffness, fever, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mental confusion and sensitivity to light. In some cases, the symptoms can mimic a stroke with patients experiencing difficulties with speech, balance and walking.
Symptoms may take weeks to months to appear after being infected. Treatment for fungal meningitis consists of a long course of antifungal medications that are normally given intravenously. The length of treatment is dependent on the type of fungus identified and the condition of the patient’s immune system. Treatment can last for several months. Early initiation of treatment is associated with better outcomes.
The Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger are Committed to Helping Victims Affected by the Meningitis Outbreak
The products liability attorneys at Galfand Berger who handle pharmaceutical litigation have committed themselves to work with those patients and their families affected by this outbreak ensuring they receive the necessary compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering. As we have indicated, some patients have died from the fungal infection, with others still recuperating in intensive care units across the nation. For those patients that do survive, we understand and are sympathetic to the fact that many will face life-altering consequences requiring a long road of rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one has recently had a steroid injection, we understand that you are scared. We encourage you to be vigilant is watching for signs of the illness and to act cautiously by contacting your doctor immediately in order to determine if you have been infected with meningitis. If you have developed any signs of the disease, it is critical for you to seek legal counsel. Please call the Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Galfand Berger so that we may advise you of your rights and explain the legal options available to you. Cases of this nature are often legally complex requiring a skilled and qualified attorney who is well versed in this particular area of the law.
Our Pennsylvanian and New Jersey personal injury lawyers will support you through this difficult ordeal, protect your rights and ensure that you receive the fair compensation that you are entitled to under the law. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Allentown, Harrisburg, Norristown, Bucks County, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County and Berks County, as well as throughout South Jersey. Call today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) to schedule a free and confidential consultation or submit a free online inquiry.