Meningitis outbreak toll: 354 cases in 19 states

Laboratory technician Ruth Rutledge packages cerebrospinal fluid of the three confirmed meningitis cases in Minn., to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing, at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Laboratory technician Ruth Rutledge packages cerebrospinal fluid of the three confirmed meningitis cases in Minn., to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing, at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

BOSTON (AP) -- The outbreak of fungal meningitis is now blamed for 354 cases in 19 states and at least 25 deaths.

That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the infections are linked to steroid shots for back pain. The medication was produced by New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has also shut down another compounding pharmacy over sterility concerns after a surprise inspection prompted by the nationwide meningitis outbreak. State officials say inspectors went to the Waltham location of Rhode Island-based Infusion Resource last week and found significant issues with the environment in which drugs were being mixed.


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