New Hampshire reports 4 cases of fungal meningitis; first in New England linked to tainted steroids

New Hampshire disease trackers reported Saturday that four adults in the state are infected with fungal meningitis, the first New England cases in a nationwide outbreak linked to contaminated steroids produced by a Framingham drug company.

Three men and one woman, between the ages of 40 and 60, are receiving treatment, according to a statement from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Only one clinic in New Hampshire is believed to have received the tainted shots, according to state health authorities. That medication was distributed to Pain Care LLC’s Somersworth, Merrimack, and Newington locations. Pain Care, LLC has identified 741 patients who may have been exposed to the recalled product

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“This has been a very difficult time for patients and healthcare providers affected by this outbreak,” said New Hampshire’s Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “Our thoughts are with these patients and their families as they deal with the complicated circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident.”

Earlier Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the nationwide death toll from the outbreak had risen to 15. The federal agency also said that the tally of infections has risen to 197. Tennessee continues to have more cases than any other state, with 52 infections and six deaths. The CDC count does not include the New Hampshire cases.

Investigators found fungus in steroids made by the New England Compounding Center. The shots were given mainly to patients with lower back pain.

New England Compounding is already facing at least one lawsuit related to the outbreak. A Minnesota patient who received an injection of a steroid called methylprednisolone acetate filed a class action lawsuit.

The company has recalled all its drugs and closed operations, and let go 40 of its roughly 50 workers in recent days.