US meningitis death toll up to 23: CDC

The death toll in the United States from an unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a contaminated drug has climbed to 23 people, health officials said Saturday.

The number of infections tied to the tainted steroid rose to 284 in 16 states, the reported on its website.

Officials have said at least 14,000 people in 23 states could be at risk and that it could be weeks or even months before authorities have a final tally of the infections, due to the disease's long .

The southern state of Tennessee remains the hardest hit with 69 cases and nine deaths, followed by Michigan with 53 cases and five fatalities.

Other badly hit states include Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

The tainted steroid—typically injected into the spine to treat back pain—was produced by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which has since shut down its operations and recalled all of its products.

Early tests had shown fungus in unopened vials of the medication, but it took until Thursday to confirm it was the type which causes the rare form of meningitis: Exserohilum rostratum.

have widened their outreach efforts to include people exposed to other injectable and high-risk NECC products after three patients who had used different drugs produced by the firm also developed meningitis.

The outbreak has led to calls for tighter regulation of the loosely controlled pharmaceutical compounding industry.

Critics say have found a way to sidestep costly and strict oversight by classifying themselves as pharmacies, which are given freer rein to mix for patients.

The rare strain of meningitis, which inflames the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, requires a lengthy hospital stay and intravenous medications. However, it is not contagious in this form.

Three of the 284 cases are for peripheral joint infections, the CDC said.

Related Stories

US tainted drug outbreak rises to 185 cases

date Oct 12, 2012

The number of people believed to have been sickened by a contaminated drug rose to 185 Friday, but US health officials said the death toll from the rare meningitis outbreak held steady at 14.

US meningitis outbreak death toll rises to 15

date Oct 14, 2012

The death toll from an unprecedented US meningitis outbreak tied to a tainted steroid jumped to 15 after another person died from a fungal form of the disease, health authorities said Saturday.

US warns meningitis cases could rise

date Oct 12, 2012

US authorities have managed to contact most of the thousands of people exposed to the tainted drug blamed for a meningitis outbreak that has killed 14, but warned the number of infections could rise.

Recommended for you

WHO draws up plan to readicate Ebola (Update)

date 4 hours ago

The World Health Organization on Tuesday unveiled a plan to eradicate the deadly Ebola virus, aiming to identify and isolate the dwindling number of new cases by the end of May.

The struggle between humans and parasites

date 8 hours ago

The battle between humanity and parasites is a constant struggle. As parasites grow stronger by developing immunities, new treatments must be created in response. On the frontlines of this struggle are parasitologists, scientists ...

Chikungunya kills 25 in Colombia

date 11 hours ago

The virus chikungunya has killed 25 people in Colombia in less than a year, the National Health Institute said Monday.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.