3:54 PM CDT, October 5, 2012
The number of Hoosiers sick from a fungal meningitis outbreak is growing.
Three people in Indiana are now sick, and that number is expected to grow, with symptoms sometimes taking as long as 30 days to appear. Two cases have been confirmed in Elkhart, Ind.
“We continue to conduct active surveillance to identify additional cases,” said Pam Tontones, epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health.
The race is on to try and protect patients who received steroid shots, contaminated with a fungus at a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy. The shots went to 75 clinics in 23 states, including Indiana. Healthcare providers are trying to contact everyone who got the shots.
“They called and just wanted to know how I was doing,” said Richard Jenkins. “They didn't say anything about the meningitis outbreak or anything like that.”
Jenkins is fine, but nearly four dozen others are sick, and five people have died, including Sharon Wingate’s husband.
“To have a shot and six days later you're fighting for your life and you lose your life,” said Wingate.
Experts are still trying to narrow down exactly how many people received the injections, which were given between July and September. In Indiana, the following clinics received and administered the tainted steroid shots:
Ambulatory Care Center, LLP; Evansville
Ft. Wayne Physical Medicine; Ft. Wayne
OSMC Outpatient Surgery Center; Elkhart
South Bend Clinic; South Bend
Union Hospital; Terre Haute
The shots that were administered are common for treating patients with back pain. Doctors who have regularly given them for years are shocked.
"It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this,” said Anesthesiologist Dr. Dan Richman. “I have been safely giving epidural steroid injections for 22 years and have never seen this or heard of anything like this."
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. This type, from this outbreak, is not contagious, and, if identified quickly, can be treated. That’s why it is so important for anyone who received the tainted shots to immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of any symptoms.
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