Oct 8, 2012 10:44 PM
There are five confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Kentucky residents. All five people contracted meningitis in Tennessee, and one person has died. Health officials say they are part of the meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroid injections for pain.
One of the victims is believed to be a Kentucky Judge from Clinton County, 78-year-old Eddie Lovelace. Judge Lovelace served on the bench in Southern Kentucky for 20 years. His wife, Joyce Lovelace, tells LEX18 she did not hear official word her husband had died of fungal meningitis and not a stroke until she saw it on a Nashville TV station.
"I saw on television that there was a fourth person in Tennessee that died, and my husband was in the group of four. I have never received any death certificate or medical report," says Joyce Lovelace.
As more cases of fungal meningitis are reported, Lovelace says she still doesn't have confirmation. Eddie Lovelace died September 17th in a Tennessee hospital of what they originally thought had been a stroke.
"We were devastated over his loss. He was healthy, he would walk three or four miles before daylight every morning. He was very active. He still read the law, and he remembered it," says Joyce Lovelace.
About 2500 people attended his funeral and visitation. The Kentucky Commissioner for Public Health, Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, stresses privacy rules prevent her from commenting on Eddie Lovelace's cause of death. But all the cases in Kentucky are linked to contaminated injections administered in Tennessee. Judge Lovelace received them at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville.
"Right now it's the spinal ones that we've seen of our five cases that were associated with these drugs from the New England Compounding Center," says Dr. Mayfield.
"I've had every emotion. It's gone from being bitter, to being angry, to being heartbroken. Grief-stricken. One minute you feel one way, and one minute you feel another. You wake up at night, and you think it can't be so; it can't be real," says Joyce Lovelace.
But she wants people to know that it is.
Health officials say symptoms of fungal meningitis, which are not contagious, are worsening headaches, fever, numbness in any part of the body, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, and slurred speech.