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Death toll from meningitis outbreak reaches 7

The death count from a rare fungal meningitis outbreak across several states rose over the weekend, as Illinois health officials cautioned the public to remain watchful.

No Illinois cases have been reported from the contaminated epidural steroid injection pain medication traced to the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

But on Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upped the death toll by two, to seven, and said he number of people infected had jumped to 64 people, in nine states.

The steroid has been recalled, and health officials have been scrambling to notify those who were injected with it.

Only one Illinois provider, APAC Centers for Pain Management, is known to have received the tainted batches, and thus far none of its patients appear to have been infected, the company’s Illinois medical director has said.

However, state Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck cautioned the general public to remain watchful.

“If you have any concerns about your health after receiving an epidural steroid injection since July, and do not know which product was used, call the physician who performed your procedure,” Hasbrouck said.

The New England Compounding Center said it is cooperating with health investigators.

“As previously announced, we have voluntarily suspended operations while we assist authorities in this investigation,” the company said in a statement this week, adding, “The fatalities and illnesses confirmed ... by the CDC and FDA are tragic. The thoughts and prayers of everyone employed by NECC are with those who have been affected.”

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