Lifestyle & Belief

Meningitis death toll rises to 14


The FDA has approved the use of a new combination vaccinate against meningitis in children as young as six weeks.


Jeff J Mitchell

The death toll in the US meningitis outbreak continues to rise with 14 people losing their life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 170 cases of infection of the rare fungal disease have been reported in eleven states of the US.

There are fears that many more people are at risk because 13,000 patients were treated with three recalled lots of steroids, USA Today reported.

The latest deaths occurred in Indiana and Florida.

Other states where cases have been reported are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey and Idaho.

The outbreak has been linked to vials of steroids produced at the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Massachussets. The shots have since been recalled, the Los Angeles Times reported.

However, as many as 13,000 people may have received the injections dating back to May 21, according to Reuters.

ABC News reported 76 clinics where the recalled methylprednisolone acetate was used have been ordered to inform all affected patients of the potential risk.

The "potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Fungal meningitis in general is rare. But aspergillus meningitis -- the kind we're talking about here -- is super rare and very serious," Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told ABC News.

"There's no such thing as mild aspergillus meningitis."

More from GlobalPost: Fungal meningitis outbreak sickens 91 people in the US


Symptoms of fungal meningitis generally take longer to appear and are more mild than other forms of the disease, so more cases are likely.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person.