Updated (with latest national tally of fatalities): Two more people in Minnesota now have fungal meningitis amidst an outbreak that has killed 19 people in the United States.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported the state's sixth and seventh cases of the rare infection Wednesday morning. The first five patients in Minnesota were women ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s.
The new cases were another woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s, the Star Tribune reported.
No one in Minnesota has died. Fungal meningitis is distinct from viral or bacterial meningitis and is not spread person-to-person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tied a Massachusetts pharmacy's steroids to the outbreak.
On Tuesday, the MDH said it was contacting 129 clinics that had received other medicine products from the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Those clinics, in turn, were to contact patients who had been treated with injectible medicines from NECC.
Before Monday, concern was focused on six clinics in Minnesota:
- Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) in Edina, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove
- Minnesota Surgery Center (MSC) in Edina and Maple Grove
The MDH has not released the list of 129 additional clinics. "We're still trying to work through the list, let clinics know," MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz said Tuesday. "At some point we might make it public."
He said the list came from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which announced Monday it was investigating a 71-page list of other NECC products.
Are patients of the latest group of 129 clinics at any greater or lesser risk than the original six? "At this point, we're acting out of an abundance of caution," Schultz said. "More of the drugs may be contaminated."
Anyone who might have received NECC drug treatments should contact their physician if they experience symptoms of fungal meningitis, Schultz said.