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Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 10:36am

Feds Expand Meningitis Warning

The State Health Department says the list of medications possibly contaminated in a fungal meningitis outbreak is expanding. 32 thousand doctors and physician’s assistants across Georgia are warning patients who may now be at risk.

After an inspection of the Massachusetts plant, the Food and Drug Administration is now concerned about all medications produced by the New England Compounding Center.

20 people nationwide have died after receiving epidural steroid injections produced at the NECC.

The FDA has confirmed fungal contaminant in multiple sealed vials of methylprednisolone acetate injection, both at the pharmacy site and from samples collected around the country. FDA, in partnership with CDC, is in the process of identifying the exact species of the fungus and whether it is similar to the organism found in patients.

Dr. Patrick O’Neal with the Georgia Health Department says officials are now concerned about every medication made at NECC since May 21st.

He says “The one that really surprised me was potassium chloride, which is an electrolyte that is very commonly added to intravenous solutions in hospitals. ”

150 Georgia facilities have received NECC drugs.

Patients who received the injections were to be monitored for up to a month to see if they displayed any meningitis symptoms.

O'Neal says the timeline that someone could get sick is expanding as well.

He says “Since we have determined that there are multiple fungi that may be culprits. Fuguses grow at different rates, so the CDC is suggesting we now think in terms of perhaps up to 90 days we’ll need to keep people under surveillance.”

Doctors will be notifying patients who have received the drugs in question.

So far, the state has no reported cases of fungal meningitis related to the outbreak.

O'Neal says in other states, only about one percent of patients who have received the tainted injections actually contracted fungal meningitis. He says those patients already had compromised immune systems.