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Two more cases of fungal meningitis were confirmed Tuesday by the Florida Department of Health.
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this brings the total number of cases to 231 - with 15 deaths across 15 states.
"The Florida Department of Health continues to investigate this outbreak using guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health told Fox News. “Our current priority is to ensure that contact is made with any patient who received an injection with the contaminated medications, and we will not rest until the job is done.”
The New England Compounding Center (NECC) is being investigated in connection with the non-contagious infections, which may stem from contaminated steroid injections from the specialty pharmacy.
So far, the inquiry revealed that two transplant patients who received NECC’s cardioplegic solution have come down with fungus infections from Aspergillis, a fungus linked to the meningitis outbreak. The solution is used to induce paralysis of the heart during open-heart surgery. Another fungus linked to the meningitis outbreak is Exserohilum, which, according to the CDC, is difficult to detect.
As of October 6, the NECC has a recall on all of its products. Though the FDA can neither confirm nor deny that these three specific infections were caused by the NECC products, it noted, “the sterility of any injectible drugs … produced by NECC (is) of significant concern, and out of an abundance of caution, patients who received these products should be alerted to the potential risk of infection.”
Approximately 14,000 people may have received injections of this steroid, according to the CDC’s estimation last week.
So far, the only lawsuit that has surfaced in relation to the outbreak is from Minnesota. Barbe Puro filed her lawsuit Thursday against the NECC on the grounds that she was allegedly injected with a tainted batch of steroids in September.
Congress issued a letter to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy Friday in which it noted that the Food and Drug Administration sent the NECC a warning in 2006 “detailing significant violations witnessed” by investigators the previous year.
The state has also accused the pharmaceutical company of operating outside its license in its shipment process.