Fungal Meningitis Diagnosis and Treatment After Exposure to Recalled Steroid Injections

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted October 10, 2012


Concerns over the recent fungal meningitis outbreak linked to steroid injections continue to increase, as more people who received the tainted injections are contacted by their doctors or health officials. It is critical for individuals who may have been impacted to seek immediate medical attention for any symptoms of meningitis, increasing the odds of prompt diagnosis and treatment.

>>More Information: Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Lawyers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that an estimated 13,000 people throughout the United States may have received a contaminated steroid injection from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts that has been linked to the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.

So far, more than 100 cases have been diagnosed, including at least 11 deaths. Unfortunately, this number is certain to increase as individuals seek treatment for symptoms of fungal meningitis and receive a diagnosis.

Federal health officials have released guidelines for doctors to help identify cases of fungal meningitis from the steroid injections and to provide treatment before the illnesses cause life-threatening complications.

New England Compounding Center distributed the recalled epidural injections linked to the meningitis outbreak to medical providers in 23 different states.

(The CDC has published a list of medical providers and states involved in the meningitis outbreak investigation.)


In an attempt to help doctors cope with the quickly rising number of infections and thousands of concerned patients who may have received the contaminated steroid shots, the CDC has set out a list of case definitions to help properly identify fungal meningitis cases.

The CDC states that doctors should look for patients with:

  • Meningitis of sub-acute onset approximately 1-4 weeks after an epidural steroid injection that was administered after May 21, 2012
  • Basilar stroke that occurred 1-4 weeks following an epidural steroid injection after May 21, 2012, who has not received a diagnostic lumbar puncture
  • Evidence of spinal osteomyelitis or epidural abscess at the site of an epidural injection that is diagnosed 1-4 weeks following a steroid injection administered after May 21, 2012
  • Septic arthritis diagnosed 1-4 weeks following steroid joint injection administered after May 21, 2012

The CDC notes that there are at least two different fungal pathogens at play in the current meningitis outbreak, both traced back to the New England Compounding Center’s contaminated steroid injections.


The CDC has issued new interim treatment guidance for fungal meningitis, to provide health care professionals with information about the best ways to treat patients diagnosed with fungal meningitis caused by contaminated epidural steroid injections.

The guidance calls on doctors to treat patients for both bacterial and broad-spectrum antifungal pathogens. It also gives the following recommendations:

  • Consult an infectious disease specialist through all phases of treatment.
  • Initiate an antifungal therapy that includes treatment with voriconazole and Liposomal Amphotericin B.
  • Avoid routine use of intrathecal amphotericin B
  • Be prepared to administer months of antifungal therapy tailored by the clinical response to infection.

“Adequate duration of treatment is unknown but likely will require prolonged antifungal therapy (e.g., months) tailored by the clinical response to infection,” the CDC warned. “Individual management decisions, including choice of long-term antifungal regimen, should be made in consultation with infectious disease physicians experienced in the treatment of fungal infections. Clinicians should be vigilant for potential relapse of infection after complete therapy.”

The CDC has urged against antifungal therapy in patients with no symptoms of infection or who have tested clean. However, the patients who were exposed but show no symptoms should be closely monitored and should only receive a lumbar puncture if they become symptomatic.


In addition to seeking immediate medical treatment, following a meningitis diagnosis from the recalled steroid injections, it is also important to consult with one of our experienced product liability lawyers to make sure that all of your legal rights are adequately protected.

It appears that there were a number of failures that allowed this outbreak to occur, putting patients’ safety at risk. The fungal meningitis lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are providing free consultations and case evaluations for individuals throughout the United States.

All cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee unless a recovery is obtained. To review a potential case for yourself, a friend or a family member diagnosed with fungal meningitis after receiving a steroid injection in the spine, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • cabell says:

    I had medrol injections twice with in a mth, around august had to go to emergency room, nausea , fever, very acute head ache, the injection was for bad neck pain, symptoms seem to me to be the meneingitis case, need to know what to do at this stage?
    also neck became very ridged and very stiff

    Posted on October 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm

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