NY Reports 1st Case of Fungal Meningitis

The fungus Aspergillus, pictured, has been found in some of the patients affected by the meningitis outbreak. (Image credit: CDC/Dr. Libero Ajello)

The number of people sickened by an outbreak of fungal meningitis has risen to 257, and 20 have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today.

That's an increase of 10 cases and one death from the numbers reported through yesterday. New York state reported its first case linked to the outbreak.

Nearly all of the ill people have fungal meningitis or symptoms consistent with the disease, but three were found to have fungal infections in their joints.

Those with fungal meningitis are presumed to have been infected after receiving contaminated steroid shots in the spine as a treatment for back pain. Those with joint infections received the shots in another part of their body, such as the knee or ankle. This form of meningitis is not contagious.

The contaminated shots were made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. All products from the company have since been recalled.

Today, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration also announced they had found the fungus, Exserohilum rostratum, growing in an unopened vial of one of the recalled shots. This is the same fungus that has been found in most of the patients with fungal meningitis. This particular fungus has previously never been a cause of meningitis.

Pass it on: The number of people affected by the fungal meningitis outbreak continues to grow.

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Live Science Staff
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