Meningitis Outbreak: Understand the Causes & the Risks

Over 330 people were diagnosed with fungal meningitis in the winter of 2012—all apparently stemming from tainted lots of steroids that were shipped from the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. All in all, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) believed that up to 14,000 back pain patients were exposed to the contaminated drug.

Not surprisingly, the deadly outbreak caused confusion for many Americans. Much of this confusion stems from the fact that meningitis has many, many causes and origins. Let’s look at the four most common types of meningitis and their causes:

Bacterial Meningitis

This more common form of meningitis is caused by a bacterial infection such as listeria or streptococcus. The very young, the very old, those with compromised immune systems, those with anatomical abnormalities, and those with head trauma are more likely to be affected.

Viral Meningitis

This type of meningitis is generally less severe than other types and will often resolve on its own—and without deadly consequences. They are most often caused by enteroviruses, but can also be caused by mumps, the herpes virus, or viruses spread by insects. This type of meningitis is contagious.

Parasitic Meningitis

This is another very rare form of meningitis, in which a parasite gains access to a patient’s brain and causes the menenges to become infected and inflamed. Caused by a microscopic ameba, this type of meningitis might occur when a person inhales water containing the single-celled organism. This often-fatal disease often takes place when a swimmer inhales warm lake water.


Fungal Meningitis 

This type of meningitis is not contagious and occurs when a fungus causes the protective coverings of the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. This rare type of meningitis usually affects those with a compromised immune system, such as the elderly or those who are infected with AIDS. In some cases, such as in the outbreak in 2012, fungal meningitis can be caused by an injection of contaminated medicine.

Symptoms of Fungal Meningitis

  • Severe Headache
  • Stiff Neck
  • Flu-like Symptoms
  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Treatment for Fungal Meningitis

The treatment for fungal meningitisis two-pronged: Doctors must control the inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord while also killing the source of the inflammation. Since fungal meningitis is caused by a fungus, patients will undergo antifungal treatments to kill the organism. At the same time, they will likely receive medicine to control their fever and to control inflammation, such as steroids.

Fungal meningitis is a fast-moving disease that can quickly turn deadly, especially when it is not diagnosed and treated early.

Fungal Meningitis Lawsuits

If the manufacturer or seller of the drug acted negligently or if the outbreak could have been prevented, victims of a fungal infection may be able to collect damages. To learn more about your case, call the Texas defective drug attorneys at VB Attorneys today to request a free, private consultation. 

Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.