This post uses data that is no longer up to date. For updated analyses, see this post. Also: this project is a hobby, so enjoy these analyses at your own risk.
Bad news: the fungal meningitis outbreak is still going on. The outbreak was first identified in early October 2012, and four months later new cases are still being diagnosed. Not all cases are actually meningitis; joint infections, abscesses, and stroke have all been diagnosed from fungal-contaminated steroid injections. In my graphics I refer to all infection types combined as fungal-contaminated epidural steroid injections, or FCESI. If you need background on the outbreak, you can find it here.
There have been somewhat periodical publications on the epidemiology of the outbreak in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it seems those articles are thankfully not behind paywalls. However, the data are always changing as the outbreak progresses, so the articles quickly fall out of date. become outdated. The most recent one was published Dec. 19, 2012. This post includes basic epidemiological analysis of the outbreak, using the most up-to-date, publicly-available data, which is from Jan 14.
Nineteen states have reported cases of fungal infections from contaminated steroidal injections. Case counts from 1 in a number of states to 238 in Michigan, with a mean of 35.7 (sd=60.5). In addition to Michigian, Tennessee, Indiana, and Virginia are the hardest hit. The number of people receiving contaminated injections (exposures) ranges from 47 to 1727 (mean=681, sd=529).
Attack rates vary widely, from a low of 0.25% in New York to 22.5% in Michigan (mean=4.9, sd=6.6). The cause of this variation is not yet known. Similarly, the case fatality risk by state ranges from 0% to 12.3% in Indiana.
Spinal infections only are the most common fungal infection type, followed by meningitis only. But, like so many mysteries in this outbreak, the breakdown of infection types is variable by state.
I thought the variable CFR is the proportion of fungal infections might be related to the number of cases that were meningitis (exclusively) rather than joint infections or abscesses but a spearman's correlation showed no significant relationship. The number of meningitis + paraspinal/spinal infection, however, is associated with a higher CFR (r=.50, p=.029).
The epidemic curves are perhaps the most interesting. Michigan and Tennessee continue to experience new cases, while Virginia and Indiana have mostly leveled out.
"Send me your data - PDF is fine," said no one ever
The public health paradox ("When public health works, it's invisible")
Let's make data a civic right
Scholarly impact of open access journals
Six months later, disease detectives still battling fungal meningitis outbreak