Fungal meningitis outbreak sickens 91 people in the US

Health authorities said today there were now 91 confirmed cases of a rare and deadly fungal meningitis in the United States, up from 47 on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Seven people have died of the illness, two of them between Friday and Saturday, the Guardian reported, citing the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The meningitis outbreak has been linked to a steroid injection commonly used to treat chronic back pain.

The drug was made by New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Massachusetts, which has issued a recall for all products.

According to the CDC, fungal meningitis can develop “after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body” to the spinal cord.

Common symptoms include a stiff neck, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light, and even an altered mental state. The Star Tribune said it can take up to six weeks after someone has received a contaminated injection for symptoms to apper. 

Meningitis can be fatal, and is especially dangerous for people who have weak immune systems, including those with AIDS or cancer.

Fungal meningitis, which has been detected in nine states so far, is not contagious.

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