The New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts-based pharmacy linked to a nationwide meningitis outbreak, is blaming its cleaning contractor.

The Boston Globe is reporting attorneys for New England Compounding Center sent a letter to UniFirst Corp., demanding that it take legal responsibility for claims against the pharmacy.

UniFirst acknowledged that a subsidiary helped clean portions of the pharmacy’s cleanroom facility in Framingham, but maintained its cleaning services were limited and it was not responsible for the contaminated drugs. A spokesman called the claims “unfounded and without merit.”

Federal investigators found widespread evidence of mold and other contamination when they visited the pharmacy in October.

UniFirst received the letter last week and disclosed it in a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 656 cases throughout the country, as well as 39 deaths associated with the meningitis outbreak. While Tennessee had the most deaths with 14, Michigan had the most total cases with 232.

The outbreak has been tied to a contaminated steroid shot for back pain from the specialty pharmacy. It has since been shut down and their products have been recalled.

Federal officials are investigating the business.

Test results show infections with three kinds of fungus. Most were a form of black mold.

It was previously stated 12,000 of the estimated 14,000 people who received the contaminated steroid have been contacted so far.

Symptoms for meningitis include severe headache, nausea, dizziness, and fever. Some people experienced strokes. Symptoms have been appearing between one and four weeks after receiving shots. At least one illness occurred 42 days after an injection.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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