Meningitis has claimed 14 more people, who have been diagnosed with the fungal disease, across the United States to bring the total number of cases to 268, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of the 56,000 registered pharmacies face lawsuits.
The CDC said on Friday that the death toll from the extraordinary outbreak, which has been linked to contaminated drugs from New England Compounding Center (NECC) pharmaceutical company in Massachusetts, rose to 21.
The CDC announced that it found the new cases of fungal meningitis in Florida (4), Michigan (4), Ohio (1), Indiana (1), Virginia (1), and Tennessee (3), which has been the hardest hit of the 16 states with confirmed cases. The latest death was in Michigan, its fifth.
Meanwhile, executives at the NECC were sued on Friday in an action aimed at freezing their personal assets.
“We want to pierce the corporate veil and go after the individuals,” Peter McGrath, a lawyer who is a former federal prosecutor, said.
An investigation into the outbreak began in September..
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). The most common causes of infection are viral and it can usually get better without treatment. However, bacterial meningitis infections are extremely serious, and may result in death or brain damage, even if treated.
Many other types of viruses can cause meningitis. For example, viral meningitis can be caused by herpes viruses, the same virus that can cause cold sores and genital herpes. Recently, West Nile virus, spread by mosquito bites, has become a cause of viral meningitis in most of the United States.