updated 1/25/2008 10:33:46 AM ET 2008-01-25T15:33:46

Five people filed a lawsuit Thursday against the manufacturer of a batch of pre-filled syringes that were contaminated with bacteria, claiming they became seriously ill and were hospitalized.

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In December, doctors traced numerous infections to heparin-filled syringes used during home treatment for cancer and other ailments. About 40 people in Illinois and Texas became sick, including 20 outpatients from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The syringes are used to flush catheters and intravenous lines.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against syringe maker and distributor Sierra Pre-Filled of Angier, N.C., by plaintiffs Richard Farr, Tony Johnson, Jeffrey Marlin, Patricia Masterson and Milda Praninskas, who were all Illinois residents and patients at Rush.

Monetary damages the plaintiffs were seeking had not yet been determined, David Rapaport, the plaintiffs' attorney, said Thursday.

All of the patients were hospitalized because of the bacteria, he said. The shortest length was for five days and the longest for nine days.

Dushyant Patel, president of Angier, N.C.-based Sierra Pre-Filled, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he did not know about the new lawsuits and couldn't comment.

Another woman, Katie Abrams, filed in December what Rapaport said he believes was the first lawsuit involving the tainted syringes. Rapaport also represents Abrams.

Rapaport said more lawsuits are likely because his office has heard from several patients since the first case was filed.

On Jan. 18, the Food and Drug Administration and the company recalled all lots and sizes of the heparin and saline pre-filled syringes because the bacteria Serratia marcescens had been located in them. The recall noted that the bacterial infection could lead to serious injury or death.

Consumers who have the recalled syringes should stop using the product immediately, the FDA said. The product was distributed to Florida, Texas, Illinois, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

A previous recall of a single lot of the syringes was made in December.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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