Thursday, December 14, 2017
Health

Florida confirms third death in meningitis outbreak

TALLAHASSEE — The state Department of Health Wednesday confirmed a third death in Florida due to the fungal meningitis outbreak associated with contaminated steroids.

A 78-year old man, who received a steroid shot from the Marion Pain Management Center in Ocala on Aug. 28, died earlier this week, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong said. The man's symptoms appeared on Oct. 6.

Armstrong said he did not know if the man was receiving treatment for meningitis.

In addition, officials identified a new case, No. 13 in the state, associated with the outbreak, a 28-year-old woman who received a spinal injection from Pain Consultants of West Florida in Escambia County.

The contaminated steroids (methylprednisolone acetate) came from New England Compounding Center. Six facilities in Florida used vials from those contaminated lots on more than 1,000 people.

In what they call an abundance of caution, state officials have contacted 260 facilities in the state that received some type of medication from the New England Compounding Center since January. Officials are asking those facilities contact patients who were treated with any of that medication to be on the lookout for symptoms.

The Federal Drug Administration questions the sterility of any injectable drugs, including those used in eye surgery and open heart surgery, produced by New England Compounding Center.

The average age of the 13 people sickened by the back steroid is 72, Armstrong said. The average incubation period — the time between the injection and presentation of symptoms — is 23 days.

The state has set up a toll-free hotline at 1-866-523-7339.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

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