The New England Compounding Center is currently under investigation for producing a contaminated steroid shot that included the meningitis fungus that has killed seven to date.
On Sept. 26, New England Compounding Center recalled a steroid shot that has been used by over 75 clinics in 23 states to treat back pain. This recall is a result of a link between the steroid and a recent outbreak of fungal meningitis, according to USA TODAY.
At least 91 patients in nine states have been infected by the outbreak, with seven deaths — numbers that are likely to continue to grow.
Fortunately, unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not contagious. Doctors have been urged to notify patients who may be at risk after being treated with the recalled steroid.
Recently, bacterial meningitis has also been in the spotlight due to an outbreak among HIV-positive males in New York. As with fungal meningitis, bacterial meningitis can be fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that college students are at an increased risk for contracting bacterial meningitis as most of the germs associated with the disease “spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions.”
Because college students live in such close quarters with their peers, such contagions spread at a higher rate than in most environments, which is evident with the spread of illnesses such as bacterial meningitis and mononucleosis. Online resource Everyday Health advises college students to take the necessary precautions to learn more about their health and safety.
Knowing the symptoms
At its onset, typical symptoms of bacterial meningitis include fever, headache and stiff neck, which are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, an increase in sensitivity to light, and an altered mental status. On average, symptoms of bacterial meningitis will appear three to seven days after contraction.
Symptoms of mononucleosis, on the other hand, do not tend to appear until about four to six weeks after exposure. The most common symptoms include fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands. A swollen spleen, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches and rashes are often associated with mono.
Treatments (or lack thereof)
While bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics, mononucleosis patients can only be treated for their specific symptoms. So far, no antiviral drugs have been able to successfully treat mono.
There are two types of vaccines available in the United States for meningitis. The CDC recommends that adolescents receive the vaccination in two doses: once at the age of 11 or 12, and another as a booster shot at 16. While the vaccines do not prevent every strand of meningitis, they are active against the most common kinds in the United States.
No vaccinations exist for mononucleosis, which means that it is essential to remain wary of the contagious nature of the disease. Afflicted persons can remain contagious for up to a few months after symptoms go away.