Meningitis Spreads To 19th State, Sickens 347

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

Fungal meningitis tied to contaminated steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center has now sickened 347 people in 19 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday.

Twenty-five 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.

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.

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