NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two new cases of fungal meningitis have been reported in Tennessee in an outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections that has killed 20 nationwide.
The new cases reported Thursday bring the total number of cases in Tennessee to 63, with eight deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
Nationwide, 257 have been sickened in 16 states. New York reported its first case Thursday.
The newest state to report a death was Michigan.
All patients received shots of an apparently contaminated steroid medication made by a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy.
Most of the patients contracted a rare fungal form of meningitis, after getting the shots for back pain over the past few months. Two developed infections from joint injections.
Health officials in Tennessee are currently identifying patients who might have received the newly suspect medicines and should begin to contact them early next week.
The Tennessee Health Department said Wednesday that 74 health care facilities here have received shipments of those medications.
A suspect injectable steroid from the New England Compounding Center was distributed to three clinics in Tennessee. Those include PCA Pain Center in Oak Ridge, Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville and the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville.
The other deaths include three in Florida and Michigan, two in Indiana and Virginia, and one in Maryland.
Test results so far show infections with three kinds of fungus, most of them a form of black mold, the CDC said. Of 42 patients, 40 were infected with Exserohilum fungus. The others were infected with Aspergillus or Cladosporium. All are treated with the same anti-fungal medications.
Three lots of the suspect steroid were recalled last month by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass. All the illnesses have been traced to one of those lots.
Food and Drug Administration officials last week said they found fungus in 50 vials of the preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate. However, they have not said what kind of fungus they detected.
On Monday, FDA officials said they are investigating two more drugs made by New England Compounding - another steroid and a solution used during heart surgery. Initially, the FDA said two heart transplant patients who got the heart solution developed fungal infections but later said one case involved a solution made by another company. They also have cautioned there could be other explanations for the infections.
Tennesseans wanting to ask questions about the outbreak may contact the Tennessee Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)