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Death Toll Rises to Seven in Meningitis Linked to Steroids

A meningitis outbreak traced to contaminated steroids used for back pain has killed seven people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in an update on its website.

The steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, was shipped to 75 facilities in 23 states from July to September, according to the CDC.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by an infection from a virus or bacteria. Sixty-four people in nine states -- Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia -- have contracted fungal meningitis and seven have died since receiving injections of the steroids in their backs, the CDC said in a statement.

The fungal illness is not contagious and can be treated with medication, the Atlanta-based agency said.

The agency and state health departments yesterday released a list of the 75 health-care centers that had received the contaminated product.

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