CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A local doctor who administered the tainted steroids that are causing a nationwide meningitis outbreak is speaking out for the first time. State health officials are monitoring one Charleston-area patient for fungal meningitis.
"It has been very difficult for me. It's been like a kick in the gut..." Dr. Todd Joye said. "We've had to notify patients, many of whom we've known for many years who are like family to us, that they received a contaminated medication."
Dr. Joye of InterveneMD says his pain clinic was the only practice statewide to purchase and use the injectable medicine, from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
His clinic worked non-stop the past few weeks to contact more than 330 patients to warn them they were given the drug and could be at risk. The clinic has warned them to look out for these symptoms:
"Fever, headache, neck pain, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and in severe cases difficulty walking or talking," Dr. Todd said.
Dr. Joye says any of his patients who had the shot and are presenting these symptoms should head to the nearest ER. He says more testing for meningitis may need to take place.
State health officials are working with the InterveneMD office at this time, and patient statistics show:
-335 were given the medication and have been contacted
-17 have been referred for additional evaluation
-one probable case is undergoing testing for the fungus
State health officials say lab results from the Charleston-area patient who was exposed to the tainted drug will take at least another week or two.
Experts say this illness is not contagious and can be treated with long courses of anti-fungal medications.
The medicine has been recalled since late September and the NECC, the company implicated in the outbreak, has been closed as health officials continue to investigate.