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Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Toll Now 28 Dead, 363 Sickened

Three more deaths occurred that are linked to the current outbreak of fungal meningitis, bringing the total number of illnesses to 363 and 28 deaths across 19 states. Two died in Michigan and another in Tennessee. The fatalities occurred after a second specialty pharmacy in Waltham, Massachusetts was also shut down because of sanitary reasons. The outbreak of fungal meningitis is linked to contaminated steroids that were distributed to 23 states by the New England Compounding Center out of Framingham, Massachusetts. After a greenish-black substance was found in the vials and patients began developing fungal meningitis, the company shut down production and recalled all of its products while being investigated.

Fungal meningitis occurs when the membranes around the brain and spinal cord lining are infected by a type of fungus. Symptoms have been reported like fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, slurred speech, pain and swelling at the site of the injection, vision changes, numbness and weakness. Patients are noticing symptoms one to four weeks after receiving an injection of methylprednisolone acetate for pain. The symptoms of fungal meningitis are milder than those of other types of meningitis. Patients are also at risk for joint damage. Those who received injections in their joints, knees and shoulders can develop long-term joint damage and even be at risk for joint replacement surgery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a list of each state and each clinic and office that received a shipment of the bad steroids from the New England Compounding Center. Officials are urging patients who received an injection and those who have symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

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