Dangerous meningitis outbreak found in Florida
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MIAMI (WSVN) -- A deadly outbreak of meningitis linked to a steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in New England is spreading across the U.S. and has now been found in Florida.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has found health care facilities in more than two dozen states, including Florida, have received the recalled product linked to the deadly disease.
This form of meningitis is not transmitted from person to person. All of those infected with the strain of meningitis have received steroid injections for back pain. The outbreak is linked to nine states, including two cases in Marion County here in Florida.
Eight Florida facilities have received the tainted product, and only two have confirmed they never used any of it. The possibility remains that the other facilities may have administered the solution. The "Miami Herald" has reported that the Surgical Park Center in Kendall did administer the solution to six patients and have contacted them.
"This really comes from liquid steroids," said Physician Marty Makary. "We're not talking steroids you take by mouth, the quick steroids were injected mostly for back pain."
The steroid, which is potentially contaminated with a fungus is from a Massachusetts pharmacy called New England Compounding Center (NECC), which has recalled the product.
Janet Rusell has meningitis which causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord. She's being treated in a Tennessee hospital. "This doesn't happen," said the victim's daughter, Tracy Barreiro. "This is something that is not even real."
Seven people have died so far across the nation. As many as 100 have been infected. Florida has not seen any fatal cases, but officials fear thousands more could have been exposed and do not know it yet because meningitis can take 28 days for the infection to develop. Patients can show symptoms ranging from fever to headache and neck stiffness. The symptoms may seem similar to that of a stroke.
"The CDC is working with state and local health departments to contact patients who received this medication in the coming days," said John Jernigan.
It is not known how the fungus got into the steroid. The CDC is urging doctors not to use any products from the Massachusetts pharmacy. On Monday, the NECC announced it has stopped shipping out any product from its Massachusetts laboratory.
In the meantime, those who received injections with the recalled steroids are waiting to see if they are infected. "I really didn't get in to any state of fear or anything," said Sue Manor. "I just thought I was going to research it, and of course the more you research it, the more you get."
Meningitis is not contagious. However, the treatment could take some time.
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