Death toll for meningitis cases linked to injections rises to eight

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn, Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. health officials onMonday reported an additional 14 cases in a fungal meningitisoutbreak linked to steroid injections that has now killed eightpeople and infected 105 in nine states.

The widening outbreak has alarmed U.S. health officials andfocused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compoundingcompanies like the one that produced the drugs, the New EnglandCompounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The number of deaths has risen to eight from seven reportedon Sunday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention.

The steroid is used as a painkiller, usually for the back,and could have been injected in thousands of patients,authorities have said.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering thebrain and spinal cord, and affected patients started showing avariety of symptoms from one to four weeks after theirinjections.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski and Tim Ghianni)