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Eight new cases, one more death in outbreak

The total number of fungal meningitis cases caused by tainted steroids from a Framingham pharmacy rose to 312 Wednesday and another person has died, bringing the total deaths to 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Five people have developed peripheral joint infections after being treated with steroids produced at New England Compounding Center.

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State officials on Tuesday said they would yank the licenses of three pharmacists and the facility’s license to operate, as they detailed an inspection that found dirty equipment and poor sterilization practices. The facility has been shuttered since last month and is under criminal investigation. The case also has raised serious questions about state and federal oversight of the pharmacies.

Infections have been reported in 17 states. Health officials have said none of the tainted steroids were distributed to facilities in Massachusetts.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday evening released an updated list of New England Compounding customers who received drugs shipped on or after May 21, when the first vials of the faulty steroids were distributed. The list contained 215 doctors and health centers in Massachusetts, including most of the state’s hospitals.

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There is no clear link between other New England Compounding drugs and the infections, but the FDA has asked providers to contact patients who recently received injectable medications from the facility.

The greatest risk for developing fungal meningitis occurs within six weeks of an injection, so doctors should more closely monitor patients within that timeframe, the CDC said in an advisory issued Tuesday. The agency has advised against starting treatment with antifungal drugs before tests indicate a patient has fungal meningitis because the drugs can have serious side effects.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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