Connect to share and comment

Meningitis outbreak kills four people

Meningitis has sickened 26 people and killed four. Steroid injections are the likely suspects.

Meningitis vaccine Enlarge
The FDA has approved the use of a new combination vaccinate against meningitis in children as young as six weeks. (Jeff J Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)

A meningitis outbreak has sickened people across the United States. Normally, meningitis is extremely rare. But in this new outbreak, there have been 26 cases of meningitis, four of which have resulted in death, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned. The cases include 18 people in Tennessee, one in North Carolina, two in Florida, three in Virginia and two in Maryland, NBC News reported

Health officials are "almost certain" that more people will get sick, NBC said. 

More from GlobalPost: When the BRICs Crumble 

All of the victims have been linked by a common thread--steroid injections. Before they became sick, all of the patients had received injections of a steroid medication in their spine, the New York Times reported. This is a common treatment for back pain. But doctors now suspect that the steroid medicine was contaminated with a fungus.

Health officials stress that this is not the fault of any individual clinic, but of the medication itself, the Times reported. 

The Food and Drug Administration has identified the maker of the questionable steroid as a specialty pharmacy called the New England Compounding Center, the Associated Press reported. What's more, the company issued a recall of three lots of the steroid last week, the AP said. Company officials could not be reached for comment by the AP. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/121003/meningitis-cases-the-rise-four-people-die-rare-strain