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Steroid-related meningitis cases rise to 47



Published: Sat, October 6, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

NEW YORK

As the tally from a deadly meningitis outbreak rose Friday, health officials identified the medical clinics across the country that received steroid shots for back pain now linked to the illnesses.

Authorities took the step to help identify everyone who may have gotten sick — or may still get sick — in the outbreak.

“All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately,” said Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate antifungal therapy, lives may be saved,” he said in a statement.

The CDC said the number of cases of the rare fungal meningitis reached nearly 50 and spread to a seventh state Friday. The number of deaths in the outbreak remained at five.

Investigators have focused on a steroid medication made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. All the outbreak patients had gotten shots of the steroid for back pain, a common treatment, and inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus.

In all, 47 people have contracted fungal meningitis, the CDC said. Michigan became the seventh state to report cases, with four. Tennessee’s cases now total 29; Virginia, six; Indiana, three; two each in Maryland and Florida and one in North Carolina.

Three people have died in Tennessee and one in Virginia and Maryland.


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