Just as the nation passed out of the incubation period in which experts expected all new cases of fungal meningitis to develop, reports are surfacing of new medical problems for meningitis victims. These "secondary infections" are puzzling health officials.
Although California has not seen any meningitis cases yet, clinics in the state did receive shipments of the contaminated steroids that caused the outbreak. It is still possible that California residents could face meningitis or other fungal infections, giving rise to more product liability claims.
While fungal meningitis causes an inflammation around the brain tissues, spinal injections of contaminated steroids can cause a number of other "secondary" problems.
Many victims have reported back to hospitals with epidural abscesses. An epidural abscess is a fungal infection of the dura - the outer layer of tissue that surrounds the spinal cord. Abscesses are extremely painful and usually occur at the site of the steroid injection.
Health officials are still somewhat confused by this new development. Although fungal epidural abscesses are not unexpected, doctors usually see them before cases of meningitis - these new infections are occurring after patients recovered from meningitis.
Other secondary conditions include arachnoiditis. Arachnoiditis is similar to an epidural abscess but it occurs closer to the spine and is usually more severe for patients.
While California has not reported any meningitis cases, these conditions can affect any patient who received a contaminated injection. Anyone who received an injection and who feels back pain should seek medical attention. Any fungal infection will also give rise to a claim against the compounding pharmacy responsible for this outbreak.
Source: USA Today, "Meningitis patients face secondary infections," Duane Marsteller, Nov. 6, 2012