By ANN ZANIEWSKI Detroit Free Press
HOWELL, Mich. -- A man whose wife died less than a month ago in the fungal meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroids is now battling meningitis himself, after initial tests indicated he did not have the disease.
George Cary, 65, of Howell, fell ill this past weekend during an out-of-town business trip, said his daughter Jill Bloser of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
"I was truly shocked. I really didn't think he was going to have it, because of how much time has passed" since he received the Sept. 17 injection, she said. "I really thought he was in the clear."
Bloser said her father is doing well, even joking with the nurses at the Michigan hospital where he's now being treated.
Cary and his wife, Lilian, 67, both received injections for pain at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton. Lilian Cary got the shots in August and fell ill weeks later. She suffered a stroke in her brainstem Sept. 22 and died Sept. 30.
Around Oct. 12, Cary was told that spinal tap results showed he did not have meningitis. But he was also told he might need another test in a few weeks, as symptoms can take weeks or even months to develop.
Bloser said her father, an environmental and safety engineer, began experiencing chills and aches a day or two before flying out Friday for an out-of-state business trip.
"Friday night going into Saturday, he started with the more severe symptoms," Bloser said. "Severe headaches, severe neck pain, light sensitivity, pain behind his eyes. His motor skills started to deteriorate where he was not speaking clearly."
Cary called 911 from his hotel Saturday night and was admitted to a hospital. He was treated there before flying back home to Michigan on Tuesday. That night, he was admitted to an undisclosed hospital.
"He is very positive," Bloser said. "He is joking with the nurses. He sounds good, and he feels pretty good. I know he's tired."
Bloser said that though her father has meningitis, doctors are still running tests to determine whether it is fungal meningitis. He is being treated with strong anti-fungal medications, she said.
"I'm definitely worried about him," Bloser said. "But I know he's strong, and he's getting very good care where he is. I have a lot of faith in the doctors."
The tainted injections have been tracked to 17,000 vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
The Michigan Department of Community Health has contacted 1,900 people who were given the suspect injections at four Michigan clinics. Michigan Pain Specialists said it treated about 875 people with the steroid between Aug. 7 and Oct. 2.
As of Wednesday, Michigan had 73 reported cases of illnesses linked to the steroid, including five deaths. A sixth Michigan resident also died, but her meningitis was linked to treatments she received in Indiana. Nationwide, 24 people have died, and more than 300 have been sickened.
A number of lawsuits have been filed by people who have fallen ill in the outbreak, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a criminal investigation.