Lee Memorial tracking Florida meningitis cases very closely
Florida health officials now confirming the state's 19th case of fungal meningitis. They're from tainted steroid shots made in Massachusetts. Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS, Fla. - It's a rare outbreak of fungal meningitis that hasn't reached southwest Florida. But an area hospital that's treated patients with other drugs from the company, wants patients to stay cautious.
Anyone with meningitis can attest to the excruciating pain.
"It hurts like heck," said Heidi Kubiak, of Cape Coral, who fears the disease will return.
Until it was treated, Kubiak suffered for months.
"You're very tired, you have a lot of headaches," explained Kubiak. "I could barely walk, so it was hard."
Lee County county health officials are on high alert after the 19th case of fungal meningitis was reported in the state. A 66-year-old Marion County woman received an injection six weeks ago from the Florida Pain Clinic in Ocala. There have been none so far in southwest Florida.
"This is a very serious issue that we're all tracking very closely," said Mary Briggs, a spokesperson with Lee Memorial Health System.
So closely because the hospital has treated patients with other pharmaceuticals from the New England Compounding Company, responsible for the outbreak.
"We want to reassure the community that there's not anything they need to be specifically concerned about," emphasized Briggs.
But they're not taking any chances.
Lee Memorial is sending out about 800 letters to open heart surgery and respiratory patients warning anyone whose received drugs from the company to watch for symptoms of meningitis.
Signs include swelling, increasing pain especially from the chest, redness and drainage from a surgical site.
"I'm glad it's not me," said Robert Fox, of Cape Coral.
Fox pulled his back a while ago. He's grateful he didn't get the injections but says he easily could have.
"When you're in that kind of pain, you'll do whatever it takes to make you feel better," added Fox. "If it means putting a needle in your back by a doctor's order, sure you'll do it."
If you show any signs of infection, doctors urge you to call your primary care physician or Lee Memorial at (239) 343-6490. live in the newsroom.