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Two more meningitis cases in NH, nationally 233 people are infected, health officials say

By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff

New Hampshire health officials Tuesday reported two more cases of fungal meningitis linked to medications produced by New England Compounding Center, the now-closed Framingham, Mass., speciality pharmacy at the heart of the national outbreak.

This brings the number of confirmed cases in New Hampshire to six, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. The department said the two latest patients are not hospitalized but are under medical care.

At the same time, the number of people reported to be infected nationally climbed Tuesday, rising from 214 to 233, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll stands at 15.

Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire’s director of public health, said all six patients confirmed in his state were treated with the first injectable steroid to be recalled from New England Compounding, methylprednisolone acetate.

Montero said state health officials continue to monitor several dozen other patients whose symptoms are consistent with fungal meningitis, including some who received another injectable steroid from New England Compounding, triamcinolone acetonide, that federal officials now believe may also be contaminated.

Federal regulators Monday said that the second steroid, and a heart medication may be linked to fungal infections. The US Food and Drug Administration said that patients who received any injectable drug made by New England Compounding after May 21, not just steroid injections, should be warned by doctors to be alert for symptoms of fungal meningitis, which include new or worsening headache, fever, slurred speech, and stiff neck.