U.S. meningitis outbreak nears 200 cases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) --
The number of deaths linked to a meningitis outbreak in the United States stood at 15 this weekend, health officials seeking to contain the spread reported.



The Centers for Disease Control said in a written statement it had tallied 198 cases and 15 fatalities believed to have been caused by an injected steroid contaminated by fungi.



The fungi – exserholium and aspergillus – are common but potentially dangerous forms of mold that somehow contaminated the drug, methylprednisolone acetate, which was produced by a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts and used for the relief of spinal pain.



The majority of the cases have been recorded in Tennessee, where 52 patients have been stricken and six have died.



There was some good news out of Tennessee this weekend. State officials determined that June shipment of methylprednisolone used to treat 111 patients at an out-patient center was not among the lots being recalled.



"We think that's good news for all those folks," Woody McMillin, spokesman for the Department of Health, told The (Nashville Tennessean) "It appears they are contaminant-free."



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