New fatal disease, and new contamination within US laboratory.
“It is likely that the patient’s infection was acquired in Qatar, as he was in Qatar for the 16 days prior to the onset of his most recent respiratory illness in September,” write researchers from the U.K.’s Health Protection Agency and co-workers.
The man remains on life support in a London hospital after he got infected last month by the previously unknown coronavirus. He can’t breathe on his own, so requires treatment called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, basically an artificial lung. He has also suffered kidney failure.
It’s a troubling story authorities think will unfold over the next month or so. An untold number of Americans who got steroid injections in their spine to relieve back pain may end up with a rare fungal meningitis. The drug was contaminated with the spores of a common leaf mold — nobody knows how.
So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 35 cases of the fungal meningitis in six states: Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Five patients have died.
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The contaminated drug came from New England Compounding Center, a company based in Framingham, Mass., that abruptly suspended operations this week, took its main website offline and stopped answering phone calls.