Meningitis Death Toll Rises To 11 In Tennessee - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Meningitis Death Toll Rises To 11 In Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The state Department of Health said another Tennessee patient who contracted fungal meningitis linked to epidural steroid shots has died, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 11.

On Tuesday, the department posted an update online announcing the latest death and said the number of total cases remained at 74 in Tennessee. No details on the victims have been released by state officials.

Nationally, 347 people have been sickened in 19 states, according to numbers from the Center for Disease Control on Monday. Twenty six people have died.

Rhode Island was the 19th state to report an infection, joining Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Another seven individuals are infected with fungal joint infections from steroid shots administrated to other joints like the knees, hips, shoulders or ankles.

The outbreak has been linked to epidural steroid injections that were produced by the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

This type of meningitis is not contagious, but health officials have said it is incredibly hard to diagnose and treat.

A preliminary investigation by the Food and Drug Administration revealed on Friday the presence of mold, bacteria and other discoloration on vials and equipment at the Framingham, Mass.-facility that mixes and distributes medications.

Investigators found 83 vials out of a bin containing 321 vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate -- the injectable steroid tied to the outbreak -- contained a "greenish black foreign matter." Another 17 vials in the same bin contained a "white filamentous material." Fifty of the vials were sent by the FDA to a lab and tested, and all 50 confirmed the presence of microbial growth.

The FDA's report also found the New England Compounding Center had conducted its own tests and found contamination dating back to January 2012, but had no documentation of actions taken to address the problems.

Massachusetts health officials have moved to revoke the New England Compounding Center's license.

(The Associated Press/CBS News Interactive Contributed To This Report.)

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