CDC reports 18 more U.S. cases of meningitis from steroid injections

Oct 10 (Reuters) - Eighteen more people have contractedmeningitis from potentially tainted steroid injections, and adeath was officially confirmed in Florida, bringing the totalnumber killed to 12, the Centers for Disease Control said onWednesday.

A total of 137 people have been stricken with a rare fungalmeningitis in 10 states since the outbreak began, according tothe latest CDC tally, up from 119 listed on Tuesday.

Five more cases of meningitis were discovered in the hardesthit state of Tennessee, bringing its total to 44. Michigan,Indiana and Virginia added three more cases each.

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

The steroid is used as a painkiller, usually to alleviateback pain, and could have been injected in some 13,000 patients,

authorities have said.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering thebrain and spinal cord. Patients show a variety of symptomsincluding severe headaches and fever.

(Reporting By Greg McCune; Editing by Paul Thomasch)