Tallahassee, Florida - As Florida confirms its first death from the national fungal meningitis outbreak, health officials say they are working hard to contact hundreds of patients treated with tainted drugs.
The Florida Department of Health reports the death of a 70-year-old man in July was caused by contaminated steroid medication. Originally, his death was attributed to a stroke.
Now Florida has seen six cases of fungal meningitis, all in Marion County. Dr. Carina Blackmore of the Department of Health says the patients range in age from 65 to 87.
More than 1,000 people have been linked to Florida clinics that received the contaminated drugs.
"All have received phone calls. Some facilities have also sent letters. The health departments are helping to follow up on people who have been exposed who have not been reachable. So we have helped with calling. We've also gone out in person to some of these folks' homes."
The tainted drugs were made by the New England Compounding Center.
Dr. Blackmore says the Department of Health has made sure no products from the company are available in Florida. She says the death in Marion County highlights the need for anyone treated with the injections to see a doctor.
"We certainly are very sorry to hear about this person's death and definitely feel for the family and wish them comfort during this very difficult time and then again try to emphasize to everybody in Florida who have been exposed to these tainted drugs that if they do get ill in any way with mild symptoms or severe symptoms, they need to connect with a health care provider."
Nationwide, there are more than 100 cases and about a dozen deaths.