CDC: More Than 90 People Ill With Meningitis

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

Health officials say 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 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.

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

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


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