Howell Township resident Lilian Cary died after she was treated with steroid shots for chronic back pain at Michigan Pain Specialists of Genoa Township, according to her husband. The shots are potentially linked to a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis. (Courtesy: Cary Family/Daily Press & Argus)
HOWELL, Mich. (Livingston Daily) -- Family members said a Howell Township woman was one of two Michigan residents who died as a result of being treated with steroids, now recalled, that are potentially linked to a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis.
Lilian Cary, 67, who died Sept. 30, had been treated with steroid shots for chronic back pain at Michigan Pain Specialists of Genoa Township, according to her husband, George Cary. The clinic is one of four Michigan facilities confirmed to have received shipment of the recalled steroids.
"She had been ill since the last week of August," her husband said.
The Michigan Department of Community Health reported Tuesday that three women -- ages 78, 67 and 56 -- had died as a result of fungal meningitis believed linked to the tainted steroids but did not report their names or communities of residence.
State health officials also confirmed 25 instances of fungal meningitis.
Lilian Cary initially sought treatment Sept. 7 at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Washtenaw County's Superior Township and was released two days later.
She was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor on Sept. 21 and was initially being treated with antibiotics for a lung infection, her husband said.
"She was doing well. She was recovering and talkative through the night of the 24th," George Cary said.
Lilian Cary then suffered a stroke overnight, her husband said. After being told by doctors that her chances for survival were not greater than 15 percent, George Cary said, he and her daughter decided to remove his wife from life support, and she died at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 30.
George Cary said he, too, had been treated for back pain at the Genoa Township facility and had been advised that he might have been treated with the recalled steroids.
The Carys were married for 35 years.
A naturalized American citizen, Lilian Cary came to the United States from her native Stoke-on-Trent, England, at 18 to serve as a nanny for a wealthy New York family, her husband said.
"She stayed here (in the United States) as a result of a bet with her family that she'd return home," he said.
She held several positions, including office manager of a Westchester County, N.Y., radio station before she retired and moved with her husband to Michigan in 2000.
"She was the kind of person that if you knew, you liked," her husband said. "She was very kind."
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Heather and George Andrus of Howell Township; and grandchildren Johnathan, 8, and Emma, 10 months.
"They lived just a few doors down; she saw her grandchildren every day," George Cary said.
Survivors also include a stepdaughter, Jill Blosus of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at MacDonald's Funeral Home, 315 N. Michigan Ave. in Howell.
Michigan Pain Specialists was one of four medical facilities statewide confirmed to date to have received shipments of the recalled steroids from the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass.
Officials at the Michigan Department of Community Health advise those who recently received steroid injections to immediately seek medical attention should they experience a fever, headache, nausea or strokelike symptoms.
Health officials say the symptoms could be signs of fungal meningitis.
Symptoms generally appear one to four weeks after injection, though officials said anyone treated after July 1 could be at risk.
Livingston County Department of Public Health officials said Michigan Pain Specialists told them the office was contacting patients who might have been treated with the potentially contaminated steroids.
"We got in touch with them Friday," county health Director Ted Westmeier said. "That's an important piece the public needs to know. We had been receiving a lot of calls about this."
Westmeier said he did not know how many patients might have been contacted.
Calls to Michigan Pain Specialists were not returned Monday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday said 105 people nationwide had developed fungal meningitis since the outbreak was first reported and that eight had died from the disease.
The disease isn't transmitted by person-to-person contact, health officials said.
Other state facilities that received shipments are Michigan Neurosurgical Institutes of Grand Blanc, Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital of Warren and Neuromusuclar and Rehabilitation of Traverse City.
By Wayne Peal, Daily Press & Argus Staff Writer