CDC: 12 Indiana cases in meningitis outbreak


Eleven people are now confirmed dead from a meningitis outbreak traced to a steroid shot. There are 12 cases in Indiana, but no deaths.

As many as 13,000 people across the country, including 1,577 in Indiana, got the steroid shots linked to the outbreak of fungal meningitis. The CDC has confirmed 119 cases of meningitis nationwide.

Up until now, attention has focused on people who received epidural injections to relieve back pain. As it turns out, the same steroid was given to people needing relief from other aches and pains.

Patients who received spinal injections have the highest risk of developing life-threatening infections. However the same, now-recalled, steroids were injected into people's knees, hips and other joints, putting them in danger as well.

"Whether it was received through an epidural injection or some other injection, we want people to know the risks," said State Epidemiologist Pam Pantones.

Pantones says patients should watch for symptoms and notify their doctors.

Nationwide, health officials estimate 13,000 people were injected with possibly contaminated steroids produced by a Massachusetts pharmacy. Investigators suspect they are responsible for an outbreak of fungal meningitis.

The steroids were shipped to a half-dozen Indiana hospitals and health clinics and given to almost 1,600 patients. Although there are only 12 confirmed cases of meningitis in the state, Indiana health officials are watching other suspected cases.

"This is still a very active investigation," Pantones said, adding the numbers could probably increase.

The New England Compounding Center shut down production of the steroid, recalling 17,000 doses of the medication.

"We'd be naive if we thought that the closing of this pharmacy wouldn't have some impact on overall supply and demand," said Amy Peak, director of drug information services at Butler University's School of Pharmacy. "That particular steroid is going to be in short supply. We have other steroids on the market that are, maybe, other options, so that doesn't mean we can't treat individuals."

The NECC also, as a precaution, recalled its entire product line of pharmaceuticals. A few are already part of the nation's shortage of prescription drugs.

"If there is an alternative, maybe we are using our choice 'B' instead of choice 'A'," Peak said. "If there is no option 'B,' we might have to go back to the drawing board."

The Indiana Department of Health says everyone who received the suspect steroid injections, for whatever reason, should have been notified by their health care provider.

New Jersey is the 10th state to report at least one illness. The other states involved in the outbreak are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.

CDC on fungal meningitis