Published October 9, 2012 | 3:24 pm
New York: The number of deaths linked to a U.S. fungal meningitis outbreak rose to 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Including the deaths, there are 119 cases in 10 states of meningitis infection tied to a tainted steroid injection, the CDC said today on its website. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by an infection from a virus or bacteria.
The outbreak has been tied to a popular epidural treatment used to relieve back pain that originated from New England Compounding Pharmacy, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Massachusetts, that mixes its own concoction of drugs.
New Jersey became the tenth state to report at least one case of the illness in a widening health scare, health authorities said on Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control confirmed that two more people had died from meningitis in Tennessee, and one more in Michigan after receiving injections of potentially tainted steroid, bringing the number of deaths nationwide to 11.
The New Jersey Department of Health said a 70-year-old Cumberland County, New Jersey man was hospitalized with apparent fungal meningitis, the first case in that state.
“He developed headaches and went to the emergency room with fever and continued headaches,” the New Jersey agency said, adding that he was receiving anti-fungal medication at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland.
Some of the thousands of people at risk of contracting meningitis may have to wait anxiously for weeks because the incubation period of the disease is up to a month, health experts said.
Tennessee is the hardest hit state with six deaths and 39 cases of meningitis, followed by Michigan with three deaths and 25 cases, Virginia with one death and 24 cases and Maryland with one death and eight cases.
The other states with cases are Indiana (12), Florida (4), Minnesota (3), North Carolina (2), Ohio (1) and New Jersey (1).
Associated Press reported that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in a national meningitis outbreak, health officials said Monday. But it’s not clear how many are in danger.
Officials don’t how many of the shots may have been contaminated with meningitis-causing fungus. And the figure includes not only those who got them in the back for pain — who are most at risk — but also those who got the shots in other places, like knees and shoulders.