The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

October 6, 2012

2 Minnesota women linked to meningitis outbreak

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota joined the growing number of states linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak, as the state said Saturday that at least two residents have been diagnosed with the illness.

The Minnesota Department of Health said in a news release that two women in their 40s received injectable steroids from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts. The women were evaluated after experiencing possible symptoms of the fungal meningitis, according to officials. They were both hospitalized Saturday and are being treated with antibiotic and antifungal drugs.

Messages left for a health department spokesman were not immediately returned Saturday.

There are more than 60 cases of fungal meningitis in nine states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday. Seven people have died.

Minnesota and Ohio were the newest additions to the list. Other states affected included Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The New England Compounding Center, which made the tainted steroid, has been closed. All of its products have been recalled or are currently being withheld from use.

Minnesota officials said they believe that about 950 Minnesota patients were treated with the implicated steroid products, and had contacted about 350 of them as of Saturday morning. They hoped to finish by Sunday night.

The Minnesota health care providers known to have used the implicated drugs are Medical Advanced Pain Specialists in Edina, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove, and the Minnesota Surgery Center in Edina and Maple Grove.

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