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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak is Considered Uncharted Medical Territory

EMSL Analytical’s cGMP, ISO 17025 compliant labs provides rapid results for fungal contamination in pharmaceuticals using DNA sequencing.


The fungal meningitis outbreak infecting those who have received tainted injections for back pain is being classified as uncharted medical territory, according to the NBC News. This type of fungus has never before caused meningitis, making it hard for doctors to diagnose it.

Researchers have determined that black mold called Exserohilum rostratum, commonly found in dirt and grass, is responsible for this fungal meningitis outbreak that has infected over 300 people and has killed 24.

Bacterial and viral forms of meningitis have obvious symptoms that appear quickly, but fungal meningitis forms very slowly and is difficult to detect and diagnose. Treatment options are also limited for fungal meningitis because there are not many antifungal drugs that can be absorbed into the central nervous system. Finally, fungal cells and human cells have many similarities, making it is difficult for medicine to attack fungal cells without also affecting human cells.

Scientists believe the black mold is infecting healthy individuals because steroid injections near the spine reduce swelling, which the immune system uses as a defense against contamination. Then the mold is able to grow undetected until enough builds up and creates a small hole in the spinal canal. Once the mold reaches the fluid inside the spinal canal, it has a direct pathway to the brain.

A new treatment has been implemented since the outbreak was first discovered using a drug named voriconazole. This drug is said to have fewer side effects than the original treatment.

“Doctors have made it clear that treating the infection before the fungus reaches the spinal canal is critical; therefore anyone experiencing headache, dizziness, fever, slurred speech, or loss of balance after receiving an injection should see a health care professional,” states Diane Miskowski, MPH, Business Development Manager. “When fast results are critical in cases such as these, EMSL Analytical’s FDA registered lab offers a full staff of Ph.D.-holding mycologists to provide rapid turnarounds for fungal analysis using DNA sequencing technology.”

For more information on EMSL’s pharmaceutical testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, visit, or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.



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