INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state health official says Indiana now has 8 cases of fungal meningitis linked to a tainted back pain medication, up from Saturday's 5 reported cases, while Michigan is now reporting 20 cases.
In a new report issued Sunday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control said 91 cases have now been confirmed in the U.S.
State Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson also said in a Sunday morning statement that there have been no deaths in Indiana associated with the outbreak that's spread to more than 60 people across nine states and killed at least seven people.
2 of Indiana's 8 cases surround patients at the OSMC Surgery Center in Elkhart.
The rare fungal meningitis cases are linked to a steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. That steroid has been recalled, and health officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have been injected with it. Six Indiana health facilities received batches of the recalled steroid.
The type of fungal meningitis involved in the outbreak is not contagious.
Officials from both health centers say they were contacted Monday that the steroid medicine was being recalled.
Approximately 400 people received epidural injections containing the tainted medicine at OSMC.
Nurses were trying to reach the patients on their list.
OSMC CEO Don Hammond confirmed 2 of their patients have been diagnosed with meningitis and have been hospitalized.
The South Bend Clinic located on Colfax had 51 people get injections with those affected vials.
"When we were notified this week that we had one of the suspected lots, we pulled it from the shelf," says South Bend Clinic CEO Paul Meyer.
As of Friday, Meyer said none of his clinic's patients were sick.
Staff at the clinic were not only contacting patients by phone, but were also sending letters and are offering those specific patients a free health screening to check for symptoms.
"You want to catch it and deal with it," adds Meyer.
Meyer says 4 patients who were not showing any symptoms came to the clinic for a check-up as a precautionary measure.
Dr. Jesse Hsieh, President of the South Bend Clinic Board of Trustees stresses this form of meningitis is NOT contagious.
He said the clinic started receiving calls from people canceling surgeries and treatment because they were afraid to get epidural injections.
Hsieh says the problems surround only these certain vials containing this specific steriod drug.
"This is not the same type of product that you get in epidural in pregnancy. It's completely different."
The injections in question were given at both health facilities between July 1 and September 20. According to the CDC, the drug has a 4 week incumbation period where symptoms can show up.
The reason doctors are not just testing all the patients to see if they have meningitis, Dr. Hsieh says, is because the test requires doing a spinal tap, which is a risky, painful procedure.
There are more than 1,000 people in Indiana who received injections.
If you are one of those patients who received the injections, here are several symptoms you should look for, including headache, fever, nausea, neck stiffness, confusion, dizziness, and sensitivity to light.
Some patients have started complaining about the symptoms as much as a week after getting the shot.
If not treated, the disease can be fatal. Treatment involves giving patients long courses of high dose antifungal medications.