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by Wendy Stackhouse · October 29, 2012

Meningitis Deaths Caused by Black Mold

We are sure that you have heard about the terrible rash of meningitis cases in those who received contaminated steroid injections for back pain. 25 people have lost their lives so far in this horrific situation and 338 have become ill. But do you know what it is that has contaminated the steroids?

Black mold.

Reports including this one from The Seattle Times even say that the pharmacy which produced the contaminated medication knew as much as 9 months before that they had mold above "action limits" in as many as 80 locations, including the clean rooms where medication is compounded.

The number of people who have been exposed to black mold from these injections is estimated at 14,000. Those who have been exposed are most likely to suffer catastrophic health problems like strokes in the first 42 days after exposure, but health authorities say that it can take as long as 3 months for symptoms to present. And the consequences, as we have already seen, can be tragic.

Medical professionals are having a hard time treating the patients who have been exposed, who require at least three months of treatment (with no certainty that that will be long enough) and many factors making it more difficult including (from The Tennesseean:

  • "The steroid injected near the spine reduces inflammation, one of the immune system’s defenses against contamination.
  • The mold grows quietly until enough accumulates for it to burrow a tiny hole, or abscess, into the lining of the spinal canal... Reaching the spinal fluid inside offers a direct pathway to the brain.
  • The fungus’ color signals how intractable it is. Brown-black molds produce melanin, the same chemical that helps human skin tan. It guards against the sun’s mold-killing ultraviolet rays — and inside people, it fends off both antifungal drugs and other immune-system attacks."

This situation and the tragic consequences bring to the forefront the issue of mold prevention. Mold is everywhere--this particular strain is found in dirt and grasses--and if allowed to take hold will, not may, become a problem. The Massachusetts pharmacy which is the culprit here ignored all of the warnings and went ahead working, knowing full well that there would be consequences, if not how dire those consequences would be.

A professional mold removal company is an important part of the maintenance team for pharmacies and other health industry facilities. Harm from mold in these facilities can be enormous and far-reaching, as we are seeing here. Take no chances! Have your facility thoroughly inspected and take the results of those inspections seriously. Call in a mold removal expert like Alliance Environmental Group to avoid ever being in the news for causing illness and death that could have and should have been avoided.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of Hurricane Sandy today.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager and Blogger for Alliance Environmental Group and AirTek. We welcome your comments and questions! For more news and tips or talk to our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on indoor air challenges, Like us at AirTek on Facebook!

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