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As the death toll from the multi-state fungal meningitis outbreak rises to 28, the investigation into what happened at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., continues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is teaming up with the Center for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to investigate the potential causes for the contaminated drug vials.
On Nov. 1, the CDC identified additional medical products from the New England Compounding Center, showing bacterial contamination containing several Bacillus species. This species of bacteria is closely related to bacteria found in the vials in connection with the fungal meningitis outbreak.
The bacteria identified in contaminated vials are also commonly found in the environment and have rarely been named as a cause of human diseases. The CDC does not know how the bacteria contamination might affect humans. A clinical infection is a potential outcome; however, the CDC has not received any reports to date of confirmed cases of infection due to the Bacillus species found at the center.
In October, the New England Compounding Center gave information on its website, stating that a voluntary nationwide recall of all products from the facility was in effect. The reason for the action was stated as being a cautionary step due to the potential risk of contamination.
Debbie Spilker, an Ogden resident, receives the same type of injections linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak. She has been following the developments, along with her doctor.
“Can you imagine the fear of the doctors that do these injections on a daily basis?” Spilker said. “They presume that the vials that they receive are completely safe. I honestly believe that we are just scratching the surface on what is going to come out in the media about the fungal meningitis outbreak.”
Utah did not receive any of the contaminated case lots that caused the initial outbreak of the fungal meningitis.
“We don’t have any recalls here at this moment,” said Dustin Waters, an infectious disease pharmacist at McKay-Dee Hospital. “As far as I know, Utah has not received any drugs from the facility, but it may change in the future.”
All products containing the New England Compounding Center name or logo are part of the recall. A company logo can be accessed on its website, along with a list of all products subject to the recall. More information is available at www.neccrx.com. Up-to-date information on case and death counts can be viewed on the CDC website, www.cdc.gov.
“We put our trust in health care,” said Weber State University junior Lauren Cassidy. “We trust that medication is safe. I don’t want to be scared every time I go in for a shot that it could kill me.”