OCALA, Fla. -- Right this minute, as many as 350 people in Marion County could have received steroid injections from a tainted batch of medication causing an outbreak of fungal meningitis. Health officials say the tainted medication came from a single pharmacy in New England, and was shipped all over the country.
Marion County Health Department spokesman Craig Ackerman said, "These compounding pharmacies mix medications for special purposes and special orders. And there were three clinics here in Marion County that received tainted medication from this compounding pharmacy."
Those three clinics are within a few miles of each other. They've been identified as The Surgery Center of Ocala, the Florida Pain Clinic, and the Marion Pain Management Center.
Two clinics in the Panhandle, one in Orlando, and two in South Florida also received the bad medicine. But so far, all six of Florida's cases, and the state's only death, are centered in Central Florida. Health officials confirmed the death of a 70-year-old man has been linked to the tainted injections. He passed away in July. Now officials are looking for people who may have received the shots from the bad batch of medicine as far back as May.
Many people rely on these steroid shots to help manage pain. If you're one of those people, Ackerman says it's important to talk to your doctor. And if you don't get these shots, he says you don't need to worry. "This meningitis is not bacterial meningitis. It is not viral meningitis. This meningitis is called fungal meningitis and it is not transmittable from person to person."
The Florida Department of Heath has set up a hotline for anyone with any additional questions. That number is 866-523-7339.