A meningitis outbreak linked to epidural steroid injections has now spread to five states; four victims have died, while 30 others are sick, and experts expect the numbers to continue climbing. Scientists have tied the illness to a steroid tainted with the Aspergillus fungus. All victims so far had received injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy called the New England Compounding Center. Some 23 states may already have received shipments of the contaminated drug.
Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland have been affected so far, and "I’m afraid we’re going to see many more cases spread across the country," says an expert. This type of meningitis is not, however, contagious between people. Compounding pharmacies come up with drug mixtures not made by manufacturers—and the pharmacies aren't held to the same tough safety standards, the New York Times notes. The pharmacy recalled three lots of steroid injections on Sept. 26, the Wall Street Journal reports. (Read more meningitis stories.)