TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Florida officials confirmed Wednesday an elderly man is the 12th U.S. fatality from non-contagious fungal meningitis linked to injections of a tainted steroid.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said 137 people have become ill in 19 states after receiving injections of a steroid believed to be contaminated with a fungus. About 13,000 patients might have been exposed to the contaminated steroid methylprednisolone acetate, but CDC officials said it didn't expect that many to become ill.
Tennessee has the most cases, 44, with six deaths, followed by: 27 cases and one death in Virginia; 28 cases and three deaths in Michigan; 15 cases in Indiana; nine cases and one death in Maryland; six cases and one death in Florida; three cases in Minnesota; two cases in North Carolina; two cases in New Jersey and one case Ohio.
"We continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and safety of Floridians," Dr. John Armstrong, state surgeon general and secretary of health in Florida, said in a statement. "We are working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our health partners and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to ensure that no New England Compounding Center medications are present in any healthcare setting in Florida."
The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., notified its clients' the medication in question -- the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, which is injected into the body to treat back pain -- and all other products produced in their facility were voluntarily recalled.
The CDC expanded the timeline and scope of injection risk to include any patients known or suspected to have received back or joint injections with the suspect lots of methylprednisolone acetate since May 21.
"If symptomatic, these patients should be evaluated immediately by their healthcare professional and monitored or treated as necessary," Florida health officials said. "Patients without symptoms should be evaluated by their healthcare professionals as soon as possible."
No cases of septic arthritis related to contaminated steroid joint injections had been reported as of Wednesday, Florida officials said.