4 Tenn. deaths linked to meningitis, 8 nationwide - WKRN News 2

4 Tenn. deaths linked to meningitis, 8 nationwide

Posted: Updated: Oct 8, 2012 07:18 PM

Health officials say the number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has now reached 35 in Tennessee and 105 nationwide.

A new death has also been recorded in Tennessee, bringing the total number of deaths to four. The nationwide death toll stands at eight.

In an update Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the list of nine states with reported cases remains the same.  Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio previously reported cases. View the CDC's Meningitis Map.

Officials have tied the fungal meningitis outbreak to steroid shots for back pain.  The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

The company has recalled the steroid, which was sent to clinics in 23 states.  The government last week urged doctors not to use any of the company's products.

In its release on Saturday, the New England Compounding Center said the recall of all products out of the Framingham facility "is being taken out of an abundance of caution due to the potential risk of contamination."

"While there is no indication at this time of any contamination in other NECC products, this recall is being taken as a precautionary measure," the release continued.

NECC indicated it is notifying its healthcare providers, mainly hospitals and clinics, by fax of the recall.

The recall meant that pharmacy shoppers like Nancy Wiggs had questions as she was buying over-the-counter medication at a Nashville pharmacy on Monday.
Her main concern was if the products voluntarily recalled are found in over-the-counter medication and if so, what should be done with them.

"You always have that thought, especially after what happened up there," she told Nashville's News 2 in a reference to the Massachusetts NECC facility that distributed the contaminated vials of the epidural steroid believed to have caused the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
In its afternoon briefing Monday, state health department officials addressed the 71-pages of NECC products voluntarily recalled Saturday.

"We here in Tennessee issued a Tennessee Healthcare network message to state clinicians two days before, on Thursday afternoon directing them not to use any NECC products," said state health department commissioner John Dreyzehner.

The state says the products are used mostly by clinics and hospitals, rather than sold over the counter, but as a precaution, the commissioner says not to use any medicine with NECC on the label.

"It's important to be clear that our colleagues at the CDC and the FDA have not found any problems with the multiple compounds created or distributed by NECC," Dreyzehner added.
"Certainly, anybody that's in possession of materials that say New England Compounding Center or NECC on the label, should not use them," he said.

In a later statement from the Tennessee Health Department, the head of the team looking into the cases in Tennessee, said she "can't speak to the issue right now," of what over the counter products might contain some of the newly recalled NECC products.

On its Web site, NECC lists about 70 pages of products subject to the recall.

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