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Meningitis outbreak expands to 12 states, 184 cases: CDC

A sign for pharmaceutical compounding company New England Compounding Center (NECC), a producer of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, i
A sign for pharmaceutical compounding company New England Compounding Center (NECC), a producer of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, i

(Reuters) - The deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis expanded to 12 states with the first case confirmed in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, bringing the total of cases to 184.

The number of deaths from the outbreak linked to injections of steroid remained at 14 on Friday, the CDC said.

Fifteen new cases of meningitis were reported on Friday including two in Florida, three in Indiana, one in Maryland, two in Michigan, two in New Jersey, one in Tennessee, one in Texas and three in Virginia. Of the 23 states that have received some of the steroid medication suspected of being contaminated, 12 have reported cases of meningitis.

The CDC said there was one additional case of an infection in a joint after an injection from the medication, which has not yet been confirmed as a fungus.

The widening outbreak has alarmed U.S. health officials and focused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compounding companies such as the one that produced the drugs, the New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The steroid is used as a painkiller, usually an epidural injection but also including some injections to joints. It could have been given to nearly 14,000 patients, authorities said.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Patients show a variety of symptoms including severe headaches and fever. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.

(Reporting By David Bailey; Writing by Greg McCune)

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