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Meningitis Outbreak Claims Third Life In Florida

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CBS Miami (con't)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4/AP) – The state Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that a third person in Florida has died as a result of the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.

An unidentified Marion County man, 78, received the tainted steroid injection on August 28, and noticed the meningitis symptoms at the beginning of October. He died earlier this week.

The most recent casualty brings the nationwide death total to 19. Officials say 240 people have contracted the virus in 15 states.

Meningitis cases in Florida and nationwide have grown in recent weeks due to the steroid injection used for back pain. Federal health officials said the tainted medicine came from one place — the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. How the steroid was contaminated is unclear and is under investigation.

Now, authorities are looking at whether other medicines from the compounding pharmacy are safe.

Dr. John Armstrong, Florida’s surgeon general and secretary of health, said that the state has identified 260 health care facilities in Florida that have received medicine from the pharmacy since January. State officials have called those places and urged them to contact any patients who might have been treated with the pharmacy’s medicine — especially those treated with injections for eye or heart surgeries.

However, Armstrong added that “at this time, the only NECC medication implicated in infection is the steroid used for epidural back injections.”

Eight Florida health care facilities received the tainted steroid; two of those facilities did not administer the steroid at all. Of the 1,038 people in Florida who received the steroid injections, all but 11 have been contacted by state health officials.

Of those, six have been identified as living in Alabama.

Meanwhile, another Marion County meningitis victim has filed the first lawsuit in Florida against the pharmacy. Vlinda York’s attorney filed a negligence and liability lawsuit this week.

York was treated at the Marion Pain Management Center with two tainted steroid injections in August and then contracted meningitis. She has been hospitalized for nearly a month.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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