OCALA, Fla. - A Marion County doctor said he isn't convinced one of his patients died from fungal meningitis, as both the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control have reported.
Dr. Stephen Pyles runs the Florida Pain Clinic in Ocala, where the CDC claims a man contracted the illness after receiving a contaminated shot of prednisone. But Pyles told Local 6 he hasn't seen the evidence to support that conclusion.
"The patient would have to have a positive culture for fungus, so in my mind, there wasn't a positive culture for fungus, so I don't feel like it was a confirmed case," said Pyles.
According to the CDC, 15 people have died from the outbreak. Overall, there are 214 known cases of fungal meningitis in 15 states. Officials believe the infections are connected to a recalled steroid from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
Pyles said that he hasn't seen one positive culture that would indicate that the medicine is linked to his patient.
"For a case to be confirmed, I would think that a patient would need to have a positive culture for fungus," he said.
Health officials in Marion County have been careful to clarify that cases involving the tainted medicine are not just meningitis, but rather fungal meningitis.
Pyles said he sent vials of the recalled medicine to the CDC but has not yet received confirmation that the vials tested positive for fungus.
He said having a confirmation would allow him to either relieve concerns his patients have or further alert them about a potential infection.
Doctors have been reaching out to patients who received the prednisone shot to make sure they haven't experienced fungal meningitis symptoms, which include headache, neck pain, nausea or fever.
According to the CDC, anyone who received a spinal shot with a steroid from the New England Compounding Center after May 21, 2012 and experiences the symptoms should contact their doctor.
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