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Fungal Meningitis investigation expands to include Arkansas

An investigation into an outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been expanded to Arkansas, according to a release.
LITTLE ROCK, AR – An investigation into an outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been expanded to Arkansas, according to a release.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the products were manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts. Some of those products were shipped to hospitals in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health is in close contact with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify all those products and the hospitals to which they have been sent, in order to assure that the products have been removed from the shelves.

According to Nate Smith, MD, Deputy Director and State Epidemiologist these actions are being taken as a precautionary measure.

“Right now, we don’t have any clear association with any human illnesses, but the FDA is taking action out of concern that there could be additional infections,” Smith said.

ADH is contacting the hospitals that have received any of the injectable or implantable compounds to be sure that they are not used.

The cases of meningitis that have been identified as part of the multistate outbreak investigation were found to be caused by fungi that are common in the environment but rarely cause meningitis.

This form of meningitis is not contagious.

Statement from the Arkansas Department of Health

The recent multistate investigation into an outbreak of fungal meningitis has been expanded to include all products manufactured by a single compounding pharmacy, New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts. Some of those products were shipped to hospitals and clinics in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Arkansas hospitals and clinics to identify all those products and the facilities to which they have been sent, in order to assure that the products are not being used.

Dr. Dirk Haselow, medical director, Communicable Diseases and Immunizations, said, “We understand that people might be concerned about this. We are working with the eight providers (six hospitals and two clinics) in Arkansas who received these products to recall these medicines and notify patients if physicians feel a patient might be at risk for illness. They know their patients’ medical needs and risk factors and can best identify any patients they may need to contact. None of the products distributed to any Arkansas facility has been associated with illness at this time. The recall is being done out of an abundance of caution due to conditions observed at the NECC plant.”

After receiving notification from FDA and CDC about the potential problem with other NECC products, the ADH began contacting affected facilities. Haselow said, “Our providers in Arkansas are actively engaged in identifying these medicines and are following this outbreak closely. Several had already removed NECC products prior to this additional recall.”

Additional guidance will be forthcoming as it is available.

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