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CDC says three more U.S. deaths from meningitis outbreak

(Reuters) - Three more people have died from fungal meningitis linked to steroid injections, bringing the total to 11 deaths since the outbreak began last month, the Centers for Disease Control said on Tuesday.

The CDC said the number of meningitis cases in the United States linked to the outbreak reached 119 on Tuesday, up 14 from Monday.

New Jersey reported its first case of meningitis linked to possible contamination of steroid injections, bringing the number of states affected by the outbreak to 10.

The widening outbreak has alarmed U.S. health officials and focused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compounding companies such as the one that produced the drugs, the New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

The steroid is used as a painkiller, usually to alleviate back pain, and could have been injected in some 13,000 patients, authorities have said.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Patients show a variety of symptoms from one to four weeks after their injections.

(Reporting By Greg McCune; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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