INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two patients treated at a northern
Indiana health clinic have tested positive for fungal meningitis after
receiving a recalled back pain medication that's been linked to a deadly
nationwide outbreak, the clinic's chief executive said Friday.
Center CEO Don Hammond said two of the Elkhart clinic's patients have been
hospitalized with the rare illness.
Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said three Indiana patients
have contracted the illness after receiving spinal injections, revising an
earlier report that had downgraded the number from three to two. He said a
case thought to involve an out-of-state patient actually involved an
health facilities received batches of the medication that was recently
recalled by a Massachusetts manufacturer. The other clinics are in
Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.
about 400 people had received the tainted injections at the clinic, which
is about 15 miles east of South Bend.
So far, 35
people in six states — Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North
Carolina and Indiana — have contracted fungal meningitis, and five of them
have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All had received steroid shots for back pain, a highly common treatment.
the Indiana clinics said Friday they were scrambling to call and email
patients who received the tainted injections. Some of those contacted
reported possible symptoms and were sent to local hospitals or doctor's
who heard news reports about the outbreak were calling the clinics to find
out if they were at risk.
"Our phone is
ringing off the hook this morning. Patients are calling. Of course they're
concerned," said Paulette Fry, practice manager at Wellspring Pain
Solutions in Columbus, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. She said the
clinic was sending out a letter to about 300 patients who received spinal
injections with the drug between July 1 and Sept. 28.
Bolinger, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at
Union Hospital in Terre Haute, said 90 patients had been treated with the
drug. All but five had been contacted by Friday afternoon, and the
hospital was following up with letters. He said the injections were
administered at the Wabash Valley Surgery Center between July 15 and Sept.
all that medication immediately" when the hospital received a voluntary
recall notice from the state health department on Sept. 26, and sent the
drug to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further
the hospital is "trying to lessen the panic as much as we can" by telling
people the illness is not contagious and that only the 90 patients who
received the injection are at risk.
most of the people who phoned the Elkhart clinic Thursday wanted to make
sure they could continue getting back pain treatment.
marketing director at the South Bend Clinic, said three clinic employees
were contacting about 50 people who had received the injections, but none
had reported any symptoms.
Health spokeswoman Laura Forbes said the Evansville hospital had contacted
or left messages for 560 patients at its Surgicare Cross Pointe facility
who received injections of the steroid. She said some patients had
reported symptoms, but none has been admitted.
for a clinic in Fort Wayne said some of its patients had received the
injections, but they were not believed to be at risk because they were
injected in joints, not the spine.
health officials said that 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.
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.