MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis has claimed a second life in central Florida.
On Thursday, The Florida Department of Health confirmed that an 83-year old man in Marion County died as a result of the fungal meningitis outbreak, the second fatality in Marion County.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 170 people nationwide now have been sickened in the outbreak linked to tainted steroid shots, and 14 of them have died.
The unidentified Marion County man was injected with one of the contaminated lots of New England Compounding Center methylprednisolone acetate, used for epidural back injections, officials said.
In addition, the total meningitis case count in the state has increased to seven with an additional 48-year-old man receiving treatment in Marion County.
Marion also has five more cases linked to contaminated steroid injections used to treat back pain. The Orlando law firm of Colling Gilbert Wright and Carter is representing two patients and told WFTV it plans to sue the company that made the injections.
On Thursday, WFTV's Drew Petrimoulx talked to yet another patient who was exposed to the fungus.
So far he's checked out fine and hasn't had any symptoms.
"It makes you wonder. Each day you wake up you thank God that you're still around and you're feeling good," said 78-year-old Doug Kane.
He is a retired maintenance supervisor with the Marion County School District. His 21 years on the job have left him with back pains that can be excruciating.
To treat it, doctors prescribed a series of three steroid injections into his back. Three weeks ago, he got the last one.
"I got a call from the doctor's office from the doctor's nurse saying they had a report from the compounding facility that they had a tainted serum," said Kane.
Doctors told Kane he was at risk of getting the fungal meningitis that has infected people across the country.
"I just sit and wait. There's nothing else you can do. Sit and wait to go take another blood test," he said.
Kane has had no symptoms, so each time he goes to the doctor or hospital them send him home after a few tests. But doctors said the infection can take up to four weeks to show symptoms.
"This is my third week so I got another week but so far I feel great I feel fine," said Kane.
Kane admits watching the clock and waiting for possible symptoms have been scary, but he's doing his best not to let it weigh him down.
"It's just always in the back of your mind. Just kind of push it away, forget about it and do the things you want to do just forget about it. So I stay busy," said Kane.
The other day Kane hurt himself lifting a lawn mower up into his pickup truck. Then he struggled wondering if the pain that set in over the next couple of days was from the injury of possible symptoms from meningitis. He checked out fine at the doctor's office.
Idaho became the 11th state to report at least one illness. The others are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.
The CDC updated the count Thursday, showing 33 more cases and two additional deaths reported to the agency in the past day. The outbreak of rare fungal meningitis has been linked to steroid shots for back pain.
A specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts has recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, as well as everything else it makes.