By Daily Mail Reporter and Reuters Reporter
PUBLISHED:17:14 EST, 10 October 2012| UPDATED:17:15 EST, 10 October 2012
Oops: Florida Gov Rick Scott accidentally gave out phone sex number instead of the state’s meningitis hotline
Florida Gov Rock Scott sent thousands of Floridians to a dirty phone sex line when he accidentally gave out the wrong number for the state’s fungal meningitis hotline.
Anyone who dialed the number Gov Scott offered was greeted with a sultry woman saying: ‘Hello boys, thank you for calling me on my anniversary.’
The humorous goof was one of the few bright spots in the outbreak of a disease that was confirmed to have claimed another life on Tuesday, bringing to death toll to 12.
The Centers for Disease Control says 137 people have been infected in ten states.
Gov Scott gave out the phone number at a Florida cabinet meeting on Tuesday, public radio station WUSFreported.
‘You can call the Department of Health’s toll-free, 24 hour hotline set up in response to this,’ he said, reading off a number.
Listeners quickly called in to the station reporting that calls to that ‘hotline’ hadn’t been quite what they expected.
The correct number, 866-523-7339, had been posted on the state’s website. Gov Scott’s office said he simply misspoke.
The toll of the outbreak, which was tied to contaminated steroid shots, is expected to rise even higher.
On Tuesday, four more deaths were reported and Florida became the latest state to report at least one death linked to the illness in a widening health scare.
Since the September 25 recall of three lots of a steroid produced by a Massachusetts company, the outbreak has spread to 10 states and infected 137 people, according to state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Spreading: Meningitis cases have now been reported in ten states — though Tennessee still bears the brunt of the infection
Leading U.S. House and Senate lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday asked federal health officials for briefings on the outbreak as a first step toward possible legislative action to strengthen federal drug safety regulations.
Oversight committees in both the Senate and House hope to learn more about the outbreak before October 12 from staff members of the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, aides said.
In five states — Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida — the outbreak has claimed lives, with the latest victim a 70-year-old man in Florida.
As many as 13,000 people received the injections to relieve back pain and other complaints and are at risk of infection, the CDC said.
The number ultimately stricken is likely to be far fewer.
For the first time on Tuesday, Tennessee state health officials gave an estimate of the rate of infection among those patients who received injections from the recalled steroid supplies.
Approximately 5 percent of patients treated with the suspect medication in Tennessee have contracted meningitis, said Dr David Reagan, chief medical officer for the Tennessee Department of Health.
‘We expect that most people who were exposed to this will not develop a fungal infection,’ Reagan said.
The rate of infection overall is not known.
Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache, fever and nausea. Fungal meningitis, unlike viral and bacterial meningitis, is not contagious.
The outbreak has highlighted a gap in regulation of so-called pharmacy compounders, which are facilities that take drug ingredients and package them into medications and dosages for specific clients.
The federal Food and Drug Administration regulates only the ingredients and not the compounders, which are subject to a patchwork of state oversight.
Contaminated: These vials of steroids from the New England Compounding Center are among thousands that are thought to be the source of the fungal infections
George Cary, whose wife Lilian Cary is one of three women to die in the outbreak from Michigan, said Tuesday that Americans have a strong belief in their medical and political system and the outbreak should be a wake-up call to the nation.
‘We don’t have expectations of a faulty regulatory medical system that allows these types of mistakes to be made,’ Cary told reporters on his front lawn after a memorial for his wife. ‘So perhaps the message is, wake up America.’
Some of the thousands of people exposed may have to wait anxiously for weeks because the incubation period of the disease is up to a month, health experts said.
In Tennessee cases, officials said they have found the average incubation period to be 16 days, but they caution that it could range from six to 42 days for their patients.
Tennessee health officials believe they could still see new cases into the early part of November, though that could change as more information is collected, officials said.
The potentially tainted steroid vials, which have been recalled, were shipped to 76 facilities in 23 states, the CDC has said.
Tennessee has been the hardest hit state, with six reported deaths and 44 cases of meningitis, followed by Michigan with three deaths and 28 cases, Virginia with one death and 27 cases and Maryland with one death and nine cases.
The other states with cases are Indiana (15), Florida (6), Minnesota (3), North Carolina (2), New Jersey (2) and Ohio (1)
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