JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a multi-state deadly meningitis outbreak. New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 105 people in nine states, including Florida, have been infected by the rare, non-contagious form of fungal meningitis. Eight people have died.
All of the cases have one thing in common; the patients each received spinal steroid injections of medication from the New England Compounding Center (NECC) between May 21 and September 24. A precautionary voluntary recall of all NECC products has since been issued in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"When we found out we had received lots of this tainted drug we started the investigation,” said Dr. Carina Blackmore, acting state epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health.
A list from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) shows more than 40 Florida facilities have ordered NECC products, including the Jacksonville Beach Surgery Center.
However, Timothy Beluscak, an administrator with the JBSC, says they no longer have any product from the NECC.
In a statement to Action News he said, “Jacksonville Beach Surgery Center has in the past used the New England Compounding Center for selected ophthalmic medication acquisition. As related to the current recall issue regarding methylprednisolone acetate, we have never ordered this medication from any compounding pharmacy. No patient at the JBSC has ever received this medication in a form compounded by a compounding center.”
But we’ve learned from the state that eight Florida facilities have been identified as having received shipments of the three contaminated steroid lots.
Interventional Rehab Center in Pensacola, FL
North County Surgicenter in Palm Beach, FL
Florida Pain Clinic in Ocala, FL
Marion Pain Management Center in Ocala, FL
Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery in Orlando, FL
Pain Consultants of West Florida in Pensacola, FL
Surgery Center of Ocala in Ocala, FL
Surgical Park Center in Miami, FL.
According to the DBPR, two (Interventional Rehab Center and North County Surgicenter) have stated that they have not used these medications. But, the other six may have dispensed it to patients.
All four of the known Florida cases reside in Marion County.
However, health experts are not confident that the worst of the outbreak is over.
“I think it's likely we will see more cases. I think it’s difficult to assess where we are with this investigation at this time,” said Dr. Blackmore.
It may take anywhere from one to four weeks following a contaminated injection for patients to have symptoms of meningitis. Symptoms to look for include but are not limited to: fever, new or worsening headache, neck pain, nausea and/or new symptoms consistent with a stroke. If you think you may have any of these symptoms you should contact a medical professional immediately.
Drugs manufactured by compound pharmacies, like the NECC, do not have to go through FDA-mandated premarket approval. Instead, state health pharmacy boards are responsible for the oversight and licensing of these pharmacies.