HOWELL (WWJ/AP) – The number of Michigan fungal meningitis cases from tainted pain medication has risen to at least 25, including a new third death, federal officials said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a memorial service was held for a 67-year-old Livingston County woman, Lilian Cary, who was infected with meningitis and died Sept. 30 after failing to recover from a stroke.
“Our loss and that of the others should be a wake-up call to our country. … The apparent lack of suitable inspections should not have happened,” Cary’s husband, George Cary, 65, told reporters at his house near Howell, 60 miles northwest of Detroit.
Carret said his wife was a force of nature and that’s why her death is so difficult for the family to process.
“Lilian was a 5 foot 3 (inch) little Brit – she had the attitude and spunk – that just makes her a remarkable person,” said Cary.
In a frightening twist of fate, Cary, like his wife, was also injected by that same possibly tainted batch of steroids but has not yet received the results of a spinal tap taken last weekend.
“I’m waiting … to see if anything develops … Four weeks or longer, a long enough period of time that it stays in the back of my mind,” Cary said.
The number of Michigan cases has risen to 25 from 21, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were no details immediately available about the third death.
Officials have tied the outbreak of the rare meningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts and shipped to four Michigan clinics, including Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, which treated the Carys.
Michigan Pain said it treated about 875 people with the recalled product, between Aug. 7 and Oct. 2. It has told patients to go to the emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti if they have symptoms, such as fever, stiff neck or a new headache.
“We at MPS express our deepest sorrow regarding this tragedy and are greatly saddened that some of our patients have been affected. … Our primary concern is patient safety,” the clinic said in a statement. “All injections were administered in a sterile environment under strict protocols. We had no reason to believe the medication we administered was tainted.”
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