Meningitis outbreak death toll at 19

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Fungal meningitis outbreak death toll at 19A total of 19 people died of fungal meningitis after receiving a contaminated steroid injection for the treatment of back pain.

According to an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to the deaths, another 245 people in 15 states have been infected with this rare illness.

The latest update, according to Reuters, adds two more deaths in Tennessee, which has seen the highest volume of victims in the outbreak. Victims thus far have been reported in 15 of the 23 states where it was shipped from New England Compounding Center. The company shipped more than 13,000 vials of methylprednisolone acetate from its Framingham, Mass., headquarters since earlier this year and were included in a recall issued by the company earlier this month.

In the last two weeks, the amount of confirmed cases in the outbreak has risen substantially and health officials at the state and federal levels believe many more people likely will be affected by the contaminated injection drug. Officials across the country are warning anyone who may have received one of these injections to be vigilant for signs of a potential fungal meningitis infection, such as a stiff neck, severe and worsening headache, and a rising fever.

It is believed that more victims will be identified in the outbreak. Symptoms of fungal meningitis could take up to a month to develop.