News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 13, 2012

CDC: Indiana has 2nd death from fungal meningitis

Patient not from Terre Haute facility

Charlie Wilson
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — A second person has died from fungal meningitis after receiving an injection in Indiana that’s been linked to tainted steroids used for back pain, state and federal health officials said Saturday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the second death on its website Saturday and said three additional cases of the rare disease had been reported in Indiana, raising the state’s total to 27. The outbreak has affected 13 states and caused 15 deaths nationwide.

State Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson confirmed the CDC report but said he had no additional information about the death. He said was trying to determine whether the second death was an Indiana resident. Family members of an 89-year-old southern Michigan woman who received two shots at a northern Indiana clinic said earlier this week that they believed she was Indiana’s first death.

Indiana’s cases involve patients at six health facilities that received a steroid recalled by a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy. Those clinics are in Elkhart, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.

Officials at the clinics in Elkhart and Terre Haute told The Associated Press that the second death was not linked to their facilities.

A spokeswoman for the clinic in Fort Wayne said earlier this week she did not believe any of the reported meningitis cases were contracted at her clinic because the current outbreak was spread through spinal injections, which her facility does not administer.

A spokeswoman at the Evansville clinic said she didn’t know if the new death was one of its patients, and the clinics in South Bend and Columbus did not respond to phone calls Saturday.

Lisa Ann Durbin of Decatur, Mich., said Saturday her family was still awaiting results from her grandmother’s autopsy. Pauline Burema, 89, of Cassopolis, Mich., died Wednesday at a daughter’s home in Bristol, Ind.

Doctors told the family they think Burema contracted fungal meningitis from shots she received Aug. 22 and Sept. 8 at OSMC Outpatient Surgery Center in Elkhart.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a death from fungal meningitis Thursday, and a spokeswoman at the Michigan Department of Community Health said a Cass County, Mich., resident died of fungal meningitis after being treated for back pain in Indiana. Cassopolis is in Cass County.

Don Hammond, chief executive officer of the Elkhart clinic, said 400 patients there received injections from three lots of the tainted medicine, and all have been notified of the threat of contracting meningitis.

The steroid originated at the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass.

The steroid is often used to treat back pain. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and a back injection would put any contaminant in more direct contact with that lining.  

Patients who have received a steroid injection on or after May 21 and are experiencing symptoms — such as a new or worsening headache, fever, neck stiffness or pain, redness or swelling at the injection site — should immediately contact their physician, the Indiana health department said.

The type of meningitis involved in the outbreak is not contagious.



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