Fungal meningitis outbreak: Death toll hits 14; Idaho reports case

The death toll from an outbreak of a rare form of fungal meningitis has risen to 14, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Further, the first Western state has reported a case.
In a posting on its website, the CDC said 170 cases -- including 14 deaths -- have now been reported across the country.

The agency said 11 states now have cases and that Idaho, the first Western state, has been added to the list. Other states that have reported cases are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

The outbreak has been traced to supplies of steroid injections administered to stop back pain. The material was prepared by 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.

Officials have said the steroids were shipped to 75 clinics and facilities in 23 states. At a news conference, they also warned that they expected the outbreak to continue to spread.


All of the contaminated steroids were produced by the Massachusetts company. Other companies, which produce the steroid shots, are not involved in the contamination or recalls.

Tennessee, where the earliest cases were reported, remains the epicenter of the outbreak, with 49 cases and six deaths reported. Injections carrying the fungus could have been administered as early as May 21, 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, and increasing pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, the CDC said.



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