U.S. says death toll rises to 23 in meningitis outbreak

WASHINGTON Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:08pm EDT

1 of 4. A sample of Cladosporium species, one of the fungi diagnosed in the fungal meningitis outbreak sweeping the United States, in Nashville, Tennessee on October 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Harrison McClary

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. death toll from fungal meningitis linked to potentially contaminated steroid injections has risen by two to 23, with North Carolina reporting its first death, health officials said on Saturday.

Tennessee's death total in the outbreak rose to eight, the highest state total, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on its website.

States reported 13 new cases of fungal meningitis, raising the total to 281. There are also three peripheral infections caused by injections into joints.

The outbreak stems from medications shipped by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts. The company faces federal and state investigations and lawsuits over the tainted medications.

Indiana and New Hampshire reported two new cases apiece. Virginia, Tennessee and New Jersey each had three new cases, the CDC said.

Health regulators confirmed on Thursday the presence of the deadly Exserohilum fungus in vials of the NECC steroid used for pain injections. They estimate that as many as 14,000 people may have been exposed to the contaminated medication.

NECC and its executives face a civil suit in Massachusetts that seeks to freeze the officers' personal assets. Florida, which has had three deaths and 17 cases, has barred NECC from doing business in the state.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (2)
tyg wrote:
Florida is a little too late for the victims of compounders who in the name of money, growth, and greed go rogue and start behaving like manufacturers of unapproved drugs. The whole reason we needed the 1938 laws that led to the FDA modernization was to deal with firms that got so big their increased risks were too great for the consumer. Will Florida ban all compounders who behave like drug factories? Doubt it. This is not about a doctor prescribing a unique formulation any more, this is about small pharmacies becoming big firms and competing with drug manufacturers. The FDA has done nothing to attempt to get their authority back. Where is their Chief Counsel? Where is the Commissioner? Where is the head of drugs? What have they done to protect the innocent from these “compounders”? What is Florida doing to prevent doing business with these drug factories?

Oct 20, 2012 6:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
PaulGarland wrote:
Meningitis symptoms can be early detected with advanced tools available online like ESAGIL.org or Isabelle that help people to get first orientation about symptoms associated to diseases.

Oct 20, 2012 12:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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