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Viral meningitis cases linked to steroid injections, two cases reported in Florida

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A rare and deadly form of fungal meningitis has killed five and sickened 47 in seven states, with two cases reported in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health has identified eight facilities in Florida that received contaminated medication, three of them in Ocala, according to the Associated Press.

The eight facilities are: Florida Pain Clinic, Ocala; Interventional Rehab Center, Pensacola; Marion Pain Management Center, Ocala; North County Surgicenter, Palm Beach; Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery, Orlando; Pain Consultants of West Florida, Pensacola; Surgery Center of Ocala and Surgical Park Center, Miami.

The common steroid injections, used to relieve spine and back pain, were contaminated with fungus when they were being produced at the manufacturer, said Paul Doering, a University of Florida pharmacy professor.

Health officials traced the drug back to a phramacy in Massachusetts that issued a recall last week and shut down operations.

Doering explained that the big issue with this contamination case is that the contaminated injections were prepared at a compounding pharmacy, which takes raw materials to produce injections in a sterile environment to be used in doctors’ offices.

“It’s going to raise some eyebrows as to why this compounding pharmacy found it necessary to manipulate and otherwise repackage and/or manufacture the substance,” he said.

Although the the fungal meningitis is life-threatening, it is not contagious. But Doering said it is still of concern.

Symptoms include severe and worsening headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

“This is a major public health problem, when the pharmacies that are expected to prepare and dispense these things free of any contamination end up instead causing this type of fungal outbreak,” he said. “It’s caused the FDA to get really concerned about what goes on in a so-called compounding pharmacy.”

About Hana Engroff

Hana is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  • Annoyed

    I am confused, or at least annoyed at attempts deliberate or accidental to mislead the readers. First you state the contamination happened at the manufacturing facility. Later in the article it sounds like the compounding pharmacies are getting blamed. If the compounding pharmacies receive contaminated meds from the manufacturer, even if these pharmacies rigidly follow protocol to prevent contamination at their sites, the final result is contaminated injections. The fault lies with the manufacturer and not the compounders in such a case. Please do research for yourself on what compounding pharmacies actually do. The FDA is concerned with the compounders and not the manufacturer??? What? Please consider researching this again and rewriting your findings to make better sense.