The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says 14,000 people may have been exposed to tainted steroid shots. The CDC reports so far, 170 people in 11 states are infected-- 169 with fungal meningitis and one person with a joint infection. Fourteen victims have died. Investigators suspect tainted steroid shots from the New England Compounding Center caused the rare outbreak.
Universal Pain Management in California is tracking down patients who may have been exposed. It's one of 76 facilities in 23 states that received the contaminated product, which is used to treat back and joint pain. The center says it never had a problem with NECC before.
"We had been using them for years and this was the first time that we'd received anything that had been tainted in nature, so it was a complete surprise to us," said Lance Jackson, the CEO at Universal Pain Management.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says NECC may not have had the proper licensing to make large amounts of the drug and sell them outside the state.
The incubation period for fungal meningitis is one to four weeks, but health experts say it may take much longer for symptoms to appear.
"It takes awhile for these fungi to multiply and cause their damage and work their way through that membrane in order to cause illness," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
But health officials say only between 1 percent and 5 percent of those who are exposed actually get sick.
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