U.S. meningitis outbreak at 205, 15 dead

Oct. 14, 2012 at 5:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The number of meningitis cases reached 205 Sunday, but the number of deaths stood at 15, U.S. health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said in a written statement the non-contagious fungal meningitis was linked to an injected steroid contaminated by fungi.

The fungi -- exserholium and aspergillus -- are common but potentially dangerous forms of mold that somehow contaminated the drug, methylprednisolone acetate, which was produced by a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts and used for the relief of spinal pain and joint pain.

There was some good news out of Tennessee this weekend. State officials determined that a June shipment of methylprednisolone used to treat 111 patients at an out-patient center was not among the lots being recalled.

"We think that's good news for all those folks," Woody McMillin, spokesman for the Department of Health, told The (Nashville) Tennessean "It appears they are contaminant-free."

The CDC said Tennessee was the first state to identify the fungal meningitis and had the most cases at 53 and six deaths, followed by: 41 cases in Michigan and three deaths; 34 cases and one death in Virginia; 28 cases in Indiana and two deaths; 15 cases and one death in Maryland; 10 cases and two deaths in Florida; four cases in Minnesota; four cases in New Hampshire; three cases in Ohio; two cases in North Carolina; eight cases in New Jersey, one case in Idaho, one case in Illinois and one case in Texas.

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