Public Health

Meningitis Death Toll Up to 21

Contaminated drugs tied to 271 infections

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Twenty-one people in the U.S. have died from a fungal meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections for back pain, health authorities said.

The contaminated drugs are tied to 271 reported illnesses in 16 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in an update posted on its website. The Food and Drug Administration has informed states which hospitals and clinics received products from the New England Compounding Center connected to the outbreak, Sarah Clark-Lynn, a spokeswoman for the agency, said today in a telephone interview.

Medicines meant to be injected that were made by the pharmacy may be contaminated, the agency has said. The FDA plans to list on its website the health-care providers that bought any drugs from NECC, Clark-Lynn said.