By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Federal investigators say they have identified 27 more victims of a deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak but with one single exception, state health officials across the country say they don't know about any additional cases.
In an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, Joseph Ridgley, an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that not only were there 27 more victims, 12 of them eventually died.
That pushed the death toll for the outbreak from 64 to 76 and the total number of victims from 751 to 778.
FDA spokeswoman Christine Pearson, citing the advice of agency attorneys, declined comment and referred questions about the increase to federal prosecutors
Christina Sterling, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Diaz in Boston, declined to provide any information beyond that included in the public court filings. She did state in an email that all the new victims were treated in one of the 20 states where victims already have been identified.
"Our investigation has revealed 778 total infected, of which 76 died, but we have not identified publicly from what states," Sterling wrote in an email response to questions.
The filing by the FDA agent came as part of a seizure order issued in the aftermath of the indictment of 14 people associated with the now defunct New England Compounding Center, the drug firm blamed for the deadly outbreak.
The last available publicly disclosed victim count was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October of 2013.
CDC officials have stated that any cases uncovered after that date were to be tabulated by state health departments.
Calls to the state officials, however, showed only one state, Virginia, where a single additional case was reported. That pushed the victim total for Virginia from 54 to 55. The number of Virginia deaths remains at 5.
Officials at other state health departments from New York to Pennsylvania to Idaho all reported no changes in the number of overall victims or the number of deaths.
Those reports ranged from states like Michigan and Tennessee, which had the some of the highest number of victims, to states like New York, Pennsylvania and Idaho, which reported one victim each and no deaths.
Tennessee reported 153 victims, 16 of whom died. Michigan, with the most cases in the country reported 264 victims with 19 dying.
Health officials in South Carolina reported three victims and officially closed their investigation in January of 2013.
VICTIMS and DEATHS BY STATE ACCORDING TO THE LAST CDC REPORT
FL 25 7
GA 1 0
ID 1 0
IL 2 0
IN 93 11
MD 26 3
MI 264 19
MN 12 1
NC 18 1
NH 14 0
NJ 51 0
NY 1 0
OH 20 1
PA 1 0
RI 3 0
SC 3 0
TN 153 16
TX 2 0
VA 54* 5
WV 7 0
*Virginia cases number was later increased to 55 by state health officials