Outbreak doesn't touch KRMC

A multi-state outbreak of a rare type of meningitis caused by steroid back pain injections has Kingman Regional Medical Center's phones ringing off the hook.

"We don't use that kind of steroid," said Dr. Sarah Knievel, one of KRMC's pain management specialists. "And I would be surprised to find out if other doctors in the area use it."

On Sept. 26, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled three lots of the injectable steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, mixed by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts after it received reports of patients suffering from a type of meningitis caused by the common soil and grass mold - exserohilum.

According to the Associated Press, more than 17,600 single-dose vials have been recalled.

The mold rarely causes problems for people unless it is introduced into the human blood stream, such as through an injection, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Meningitis is an inflammation of a protective membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal column.

The CDC and FDA are still trying to track down the source of the contamination but said that more than 85 percent of the around 14,000 patients who received the shots have been contacted.

So far, 19 people have died in the outbreak. They were among the 247 sickened so far in 15 states, according to the Associated Press.

Food and Drug Administration officials last week said they found fungus in 50 vials of the preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate.

On Monday, FDA officials said they are investigating two more drugs made by New England Compounding - another steroid and a solution used during heart surgery.