• Orlando clinic received contaminated steroids linked to deadly meningitis outbreak


    ORLANDO, Fla. - WFTV has learned an Orlando clinic received a shipment of tainted steroids being linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.

    The steroid is injected into the spine to ease back pain.

    The steroids were sent to clinics in 25 states from New England Compounding Center, a pharmacy in Massachusetts.

    Eight clinics in Florida received the contaminated steroids. Among them, three are in Ocala and one clinic is in Orlando – Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery in downtown.

    Dain Weister said a handful of patients received injections at the Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery. WFTV is waiting on an official number from the facility.

    The Marion Pain Management Center is in the process of altering patients. WFTV has received no word and no comment on how many were affected.

    The Surgery Center of Ocala gave more than 20 patients the shot. None had to seek treatment of any kind and have been referred to their physicians in case symptoms arise. The Food and Drug Administration picked up the remaining 20 vials of the medicine from the center earlier today.

    There are no reported cases of anyone getting sick in Orlando.

    However, two people in Marion County -- an 87-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman -- are being treated at Munroe Regional Medical Center after getting the rare form of meningitis.

    More cases of Aspergillus meningitis were confirmed across the U.S. today. At least 47 people in seven states have gotten sick.

    Five have died.

    As many as 1,000 Americans may be infected with Aspergillus meningitis and health officials are on high alert.

    Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News said it usually causes problems in people with immune problems.

    "Bu here, it was injected directly into the spine. It goes up to the brain, causes inflammation. And in some people, it actually caused a stroke," Besser said.

    Early symptoms can be headaches, fever and stiff neck. It can take anywhere from a week to a month to develop.

    Anyone who has received a steroid injection in the spine since July should check with a doctor to see if it's from the tainted source.

    "Early treatment can improve the outcome for these patients," said Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The FDA has advised health providers to stop using any product from the New England Compounding Center during the investigation.

    The company has recalled nearly 17,000 lots of the steroid injection and has voluntarily shut down operations.

    Anyone can inhale airborne Aspergillus fungus spores without getting sick. It's found in decaying leaves, trees, grain, soil, household dust, heating ducts and building materials.

    Watch how the medicine is really made on ABC World News at 6:30 p.m. after Eyewitness at 6.

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