2 more meningitis cases confirmed

One more in Marion County

A closeup view through the lens of a microscope and magnified on the computer screen of the meningitis causing fungus Exserohilum rostratum at the Mycotic lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 12, 2012 in Atlanta. The staff and technicians have been working around the clock to confirm cases and inform the public regarding the multi-state meningitis outbreak that has resulted in 14 deaths. The fungal outbreak is believed to have started at New England Compounding Center where a steroid injection shipment was contaminated with the fungus. (AP Photo/Pouya Dianat)

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 12:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 12:52 p.m.

The Florida Department of Health announced this afternoon that 1,038 patients in the state received one or more shots of contaminated pain medication manufactured and distributed by a New England compounding pharmacy.

The state has notified all but 12 of those patients in a week or so --- a feat that the secretary of health calls “an extraordinary effort” under the circumstances.

The secretary, Dr. John Armstrong, said the state knows the identity of the remaining 12 patients and is still trying to reach them. They may be Floridians or may have just received the medication while here.

Armstrong discussed those details during a 1:30 p.m. news conference. A bit earlier in the afternoon the state announced that it had confirmed two more cases --- one of them in Marion County --- of fungal meningitis linked to the contaminated pain medication. That makes the Florida count 12 patients including two deaths.

The two most recent patients received epidural back injections of contaminated lots of methylprednisolone acetate.

The Marion County patient is a woman, age 74, who received her shot at the Florida Pain Clinic. The other patient is a 79-year-old woman who was treated in Escambia County.

Ten of the 12 cases, including both deaths, are in Marion.

“The Florida Department of Health continues to investigate this outbreak using guidance from

the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Armstrong said in a news release. He is the state surgeon general as well as the secretary of health.

The nationwide numbers: 214 cases of fungal meningitis connected with the tainted medicine and 15 deaths in 15 states.

As local, state and federal officials sort through the methylprednisolone acetate issue, the pharmacy at the heart of the matter --- the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. --- is dealing with more issues.

Twelve additional medications manufactured and distributed by the pharmacy have been recalled out of an abundance of caution. In Florida, 78 medical facilities received those drugs. All of those facilities have been visited by state or local officials.

Officials note that no contamination or problems have been identified with those other medications at this time. The recall move is precautionary.

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