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Rare Meningitis Outbreak Linked To Framingham Pharmacy

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NASHVILLE, TENN. (CBS/AP) — Health officials say a rare meningitis outbreak has sickened 26 people in five states who received steroid injections for back pain. Four people have died.

Eighteen of the cases — and two deaths — are in Tennessee where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid suspected in the outbreak. A health official says the steroid came from a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

An FDA spokesperson says that on September 26th, the New England Compounding Center of Framingham voluntary recalled three lots of an injectable methylprednisolone acetate. They have since suspended operations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the other cases are in Virginia, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina. Virginia and Maryland had one death each.

Health officials said Wednesday that more new cases are almost certain to appear in the coming days. Investigators have not ruled out contamination in other products.

The CDC says these are cases of fungal meningitis, which are not transmittable from person to person.

The Framingham pharmacy released the following statement Wednesday:

“New England Compounding Center (NECC) is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy and other regulators to identify the source of infection in patients who received injections of methylprednisolone acetate. Upon notification of incidents of infection, NECC immediately initiated a voluntary recall of this product on September 26. As part of this process, we have voluntarily suspended operations while we assist authorities in their investigation.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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