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Indiana reports 5 meningitis cases tied to steroid

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 8:47 am

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has five cases of fungal meningitis linked to a tainted back pain medication, federal health officials said Saturday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the latest count on its website Saturday afternoon. Amanda Turney, spokeswoman for the Indiana State Department of Health, later confirmed the five cases.

Phone messages left at the six Indiana health facilities that received batches of the steroid were not returned. The steroid was produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The manufacturer has recalled the medication, and health officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have been injected with it.

The Indiana clinics are in Elkhart, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus. OSMC Surgery Center CEO Don Hammond said Friday that two of the Elkhart clinic's patients had been hospitalized with the rare illness.

As of Saturday, about 1,500 people in Indiana were known to have received spinal or joint injections of the drug, Turney said.

In updated figures on its website, the CDC said the national outbreak has spread to more than 60 people across nine states and left seven people dead. Minnesota and Ohio are the two latest states to report confirmed cases linked to the steroid.

Massachusetts health officials said the pharmacy involved, the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has recalled three lots — a total of 17,676 single-dose vials — of methylprednisolone acetate.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

The type of fungal meningitis involved is not contagious. It is caused by a fungus often found in leaf mold and is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously.