CDC: More Than 90 People With Meningitis In US - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

CDC: More Than 90 People With Meningitis In US

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ATLANTA (AP) - Health officials said they have now confirmed more than 90 cases of a rare fungal meningitis that has been linked to a steroid commonly used to ease back pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted updated figures to its website Sunday. The death toll stood at 7, the same number as a day earlier.

The CDC figures show there are 91 cases in the U.S. altogether.

In Tennessee, three new cases were reported over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases to 32, with three deaths reported.

The steroid linked to the outbreak has been recalled, and health officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have received an injection of it.

On Saturday the pharmacy that distributed the steroid, meant for back pain, has issued a voluntary recall of all of its products.

The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., announced in a news release that the move was taken out of an abundance of caution because of the risk of contamination. It says there is no indication that any other products have been contaminated.

The Food and Drug Administration had previously told health professionals not to use any products distributed by the center.

The outbreak is spread across nine states, the same states reported Saturday: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is calling for stronger government oversight of so-called "compounding pharmacies."

Blumenthal said Sunday that he will be writing to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to ask for stricter scrutiny of such pharmacies. He said the facilities appear to operate in a "regulatory black hole" and are only marginally overseen by the FDA.

Blumenthal said he will be proposing more authority for the FDA in such cases, if needed.

The form of meningitis involved in the outbreak is a rare fungal type that is not contagious and was started by a contaminated steroid injection.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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