Twelve people have been confirmed dead by the meningitis outbreak linked to a steroid injection that was given across the country for joint and back pain, with Florida becoming the latest state to report a fatality.
The Miami Herald is reporting that State health officials confirmed a 70-year-old man died in July before the contaminated steroid medication was discovered. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previous confirmed deaths occurred in Maryland (1), Michigan (3), Tennessee (6), and Virginia (1).
As many as 13,000 were given the injection, although it is not clear how many of them are in danger and how many of the shots were actually contaminated with the meningitis-causing fungus tied to the outbreak. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.
Those who received shots on their back for pain are most at risk, while those injected in joints are not believed to be at risk, according to Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the CDC. He also said there is no breakdown available of how many people received the injections in the back or joints.
The current CDC count of causes has reached 119, with Tennessee having the most. All had received shots for back pain and investigators suspect a steroid medication made by specialty pharmacy New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts (NECC). The first known case was diagnosed last month in Tennessee. A recall of NECC products has been issued as a precaution.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. A back injection would put any contaminant in more direct contact with that lining. Symptoms of meningitis have been appearing between one and four weeks after patients received the shots. They include headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. While some cases have been mild, other people had strokes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging doctors to contact patients who've received doses from any of the recalled lots.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.