39 Idahoans May Have Received Contaminated Steroid Injections

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An Idaho male, over 60 years old, has been hospitalized with fungal meningitis and is receiving aggressive antifungal treatment to combat the infection, health officials confirmed today.

Officials warned that as many as 39 Idaho patients may have received an epidrual injection of methylprednisolone acetate contaminated with Aspergillus fumigatus.

The outbreak is linked to contaminated steroid injections, and as many as 13,000 people may have received the medicine between May 21 and Sept. 24, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Patients contracted the deadly fungal meningitis after being injected in their spines with a preservative-free steroid that was contaminated by the fungus. The steroid is used to treat pain and inflammation.

Health officials say 75 medical facilities in 23 states, including two in Idaho, received the contaminated steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts-based pharmacy.

The Idaho facilities—Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls—reportedly received some of the contaminated injections. As many as four patients from Walter Knox and 35 patients from the Idaho Falls clinic may have received the injections, according to state health officials.

Despite the outbreak, health officials say that fungal meningitis, which has now infected nearly 120 patients and resulted in 12 deaths, is rare and not contagious.

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