Allegheny County Health Dept. Joins Investigation of Nationwide Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to identify and contact patients who received a medication that has been linked to cases of fungal meningitis in several other states.  Affected patients received injections of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, which may have been contaminated. The drug was made by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts. The pharmacy issued a voluntary recall last week and has shut down its operations.

At present, no cases of illness related to the use of this medication have been identified in Pennsylvania.  A total of 34 cases and five deaths associated with this outbreak have been identified in six other states to date.

ACHD is working with South Hills Pain and Rehab Associates, one of two Pennsylvania clinics that received a recalled lot of the steroid. The particular lot received by this clinic has not yet been linked to illnesses nationally. However, patients are being contacted to determine if any have illnesses that need further evaluation. Thus far, none of the patients who have been contacted have had illnesses suggestive of meningitis.

There is no indication that there were any problems in the clinic’s administration of the medication.  Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person-to-person, and there is no cause for concern to anyone who did not receive an injection of this specific lot of medication. At this time, there is no indication that other medications are involved.

Health officials ask that providers report patients who were diagnosed with fungal meningitis, aseptic meningitis, or basilar stroke and those who had received an epidural injection of methylprednisolone in the one to four weeks prior to the onset of illness. In addition, other products manufactured by the New England Compounding Center should not be used.

For more information about fungal meningitis, visit the Allegheny County Health Department website or call 412-687-ACHD.