WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- At least five Americans have been killed, 42 others sickened in a deadly meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated drug, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday.
The hardest-hit state was Tennessee, where health officials said Friday the number of cases had risen to 29, including three deaths. Virginia's cases now totaled six; Michigan, four; Indiana, three; two each in Maryland and Florida and one in North Carolina.
Public health officials were contacting patients in 23 states who had received the potentially contaminated steroid injection -- typically for back pain -- and urging them to be tested for the rare fungal infection.
"All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately," Benjamin Park of the CDC said in a statement. "It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate antifungal therapy, lives may be saved."
The Food and Drug Administration said it had detected a fungal contaminant in a sealed vial of the drug produced by the New England Compounding Center.
While further testing is required to confirm it was the source of the outbreak, the company has issued a recall of all its products and shut down all operations.