Bloomberg News

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Reaches 233 Cases, U.S. CDC Says

October 16, 2012

The fungal meningitis outbreak triggered by a contaminated medication for back pain has been linked to 16 deaths in the U.S. after Virginia authorities said today that a second patient had died in the state.

Earlier today, 233 illnesses has been reported in 15 states, killing 15 people, including one in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A second Virginia death connected to the outbreak was confirmed later, the state Department of Health said in a statement.

A steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, manufactured by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, is believed by authorities to have triggered the outbreak. About 14,000 people received shots of the drug, contaminated with a strain of fungus, that were sold by the compounding pharmacy to 75 hospitals and clinics in 23 states, U.S. health regulators have said. The pharmacy suspended operations two weeks ago and recalled 17,676 doses of the medicine used as an injection for back pain.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by an infection from a virus or bacteria. The version of the illness linked to the outbreak isn’t contagious and can be treated with anti-fungal medication, the CDC said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Romaine Bostick in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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