UK & World News
Meningitis: 14,000 At Risk In Deadly US Outbreak
American health officials say 14,000 people have been exposed to contaminated drugs linked to a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
Fourteen people are dead and at least 170 infected across eleven states after being treated for back pain with tainted steroid injections.
The US Centre for Disease Control released the new information as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 50 vials of the medicine had tested positive for the fungus so far.
Doctors are rushing to warn people who might have been exposed, many of whom might not experience symptoms for around 30 days after infection.
Fungal meningitis is rare and not passed from person to person, but it is a very serious condition with symptoms including neck ache, fever, headaches and extreme sensitivity to light.
The batch of steroids linked to the outbreak has been recalled, and the Massachusetts pharmacy that manufactured it, the New England Compounding Centre (NECC), has said it is co-operating with authorities investigating the outbreak.
But Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said the NECC may have misled regulators and done work beyond the scope of its state licence.
An FDA official said the NECC had assured federal authorities that it was producing safe products, and that the meningitis outbreak showed the need for a new scheme to oversee the specific type of drug associated with it.