Toll from meningitis linked to steroid shots increases to 11 dead
The death toll from a rare form of fungal meningitis has risen to 11, officials said Tuesday, and they reported that 199 have now been sickened by an outbreak of the disease believed linked to contaminated steroid injections.
In a posting by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials added New Jersey to the list of states reporting meningitis cases. The other are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.
Officials have tied the meningitis outbreak to vials of steroids produced at New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass. The company recalled the steroid then broadened the recall to include all products it makes.
At a news conference last week, CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said the steroid injections were used to combat back pain. Inspection discovered that at least one vial of the steroid had been contaminated by a fungus.
At least 75 clinics and other facilities in 23 states received the vials of steroids traced to three lots shipped by the Massachusetts company. Steroids produced by other companies have not been involved in the current outbreak, officials said.
All of the cases have been reported in states in the eastern portion of the country. Minnesota, with three cases, is the furthest west.
Tennessee has been the epicenter of the outbreak, with 39 cases and six deaths reported.
Injections carrying the fungus could have been administered as early as May 21, 2012, according to the CDC.
It usually takes between one to four weeks for symptoms to develop, officials said. Symptoms that should prompt patients to seek medical care include: fever, new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, new weakness or numbness, increasing pain, redness or swelling of the injection site, the CDC said.
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