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CDC Says 205 Cases of Meningitis in 14 States; 15 Dead

By Dan Hart
October 14, 2012 3:15 PM EDT
The New England Compounding Center based in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Photographer: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The New England Compounding Center based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Two hundred and five people in 14 states are infected with meningitis traced to contaminated steroid shots, which have left 15 people dead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

The outbreak has spread to a new state, New Hampshire, the CDC said in a statement on its website today. The other states are Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the agency said.

Two days ago, U.S. regulators said about 14,000 people who received pain-relieving steroid shots may be at risk for meningitis. The infections are traced to vials from a Framingham, Massachusetts-based pharmacy that mixed the steroid and sold it to 75 hospitals and clinics in 23 states, the CDC said.

The company in question, New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc., was sued by a woman who received a steroid shot that was recalled because it was potentially contaminated with a fungus putting recipients at risk for meningitis.

Injections of the tainted steroid -- an epidural shot used to treat neck and back pain -- were given starting May 21, the Atlanta-based CDC said. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Reuters yesterday reported that NECC sold medication without gaining individual proof of prescriptions, citing e- mails it obtained. More than a dozen e-mails also showed the company sought to win bulk orders from physicians, the news service said. The company declined to comment to Reuters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net

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