Epidural Steroid Injections Source of Meningitis Outbreak

The injured worker in Pennsylvania already has enough to worry about. Is my back injury a bulging or herniated disc? Is the nerve root involved (called “radiculitis” or “radiculopathy”)? Now, the injured worker in PA, and throughout the Country, has to worry about whether the treatment for his or her back injury is endangering their life.

According to CBS News, as of yesterday, 323 people have contracted fungal meningitis as a result of receiving a tainted epidural steroid injection. Of those 323 cases, 24 patients have died. Epidural steroid injections are routinely provided to injured workers for back pain, often radiating to the patient’s leg. The epidural steroid injection is designed to reduce the swelling and inflammation in the area around the nerves, in an effort to provide relief to the patient. While the vast majority of the victims in this outbreak did contract the fungal meningitis from an epidural steroid injection into the spine, a handful of patients actually developed the meningitis from an injection into a joint (such as the hip, knee, shoulder or ankle).

This situation is currently being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as by some of the individual States involved, such as New Jersey.