Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) –The state health department is confirming a second Marylander has died from fungal meningitis. No name, age or sex is being released.
Alex DeMetrick reports all that’s known for sure is that the death happened in November from all too familiar causes.
A fatal chain reaction was set in motion last summer when steroid shots to relieve back pain became a gateway for fungal meningitis.
“I can’t imagine a worse place,” said Dr. Bill Howard.
That’s because meningitis attacks the spinal fluid and brain. It was introduced through contaminated batches of a steroid produced in a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy and shipped across the country, including seven clinics in Maryland.
Early on, state health experts expected a lot of Maryland patients would be exposed.
“We believe that there are probably hundreds of people who may have received an injection, and those cases are currently under investigation,” said Dr. Lucy Wilson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in October.
Now a total of 25 fungal meningitis cases have been confirmed in Maryland.
“My head started pounding, my neck started getting stiff,” said Patricia Pugh.
Pugh is one of those cases. Her treatment hasn’t been easy.
“This is the antibiotic. This is the pneumonia, the flu. I will stay in pain the rest of my life before I ever get another shot,” said Pugh.
Those contaminated shots have sickened 590 people across the country, killing 37. That includes the second death in Maryland announced Monday.
Experts say it can take months for infection to take hold.
“It just takes a while for the fungi to multiply and cause their damage and work their way through the membrane in order to cause illness,” said Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbelt University Medical Center.
Emotional pain caused by a tainted pain reliever.
“I just feel for the families who have lost their loved ones behind,” said Pugh.
This second meningitis death happened while the patient was undergoing treatment for the infection.