Meningitis outbreak alarming Hoosiers

Dr. Ellender
Published: .
Updated: .

The number of fungal meningitis cases in Indiana is still on the rise, with 28 confirmed cases now. Nationwide, the number has grown to 205 cases in 14 states, and, sadly, 15 people have died, including two who were infected by tainted steroids in Indiana.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the new case of fungal meningitis in Indiana on Sunday. It is linked to injections of a steroid used to treat back pain.

The outbreak is putting a scare into Hoosiers, who are now showing up in hospital emergency rooms saying they're suffering from symptoms. IU Health-Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis has seen a dozen patients come to get potential symptoms checked out.

"But none of those have been infected by the injections that have led to the number of illnesses that we have seen across the United States and isolated pockets in Indiana," said Methodist ER doctor Tim Ellender. "No one in Central Indiana has had contaminated injections as far as we can tell. The numbers that were provided from the manufacturer have not included Central Indiana health facilities."

Six health facilities have located patients that received the steroid recalled by a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy. Those clinics are located in Elkhart, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.

So far, two deaths are linked to Indiana. The first was an 89-year-old southern Michigan woman who received two shots at a northern Indiana clinic. No details of the second fatality have been released.

Ellender said those who report possible symptoms in Indiana are "being taken seriously."

"What we have tried to do is assess whether these people have had any injection whatsoever," Ellender said. "Have they been related to the centers that have had the contaminated lots at all?"

"They could be potentially ill from another cause," Ellender said, and added that it is unlikely any of the patients seen at Methodist have been associated with the fungal meningitis outbreak.

Fungal meningitis symptoms including headache, fever, stiff neck and sensitivity to light, and a few people have suffered strokes. But, even though some Hoosiers may have dealt with similar symptoms over the weekend, if they did not have the tainted shot, there's no need to be concerned about this outbreak.



And since it cannot be passed person-to-person, IU Health-Methodist hopes it will not see the problem in Central Indiana.

Of the 205cases that have been reported across the country, the bulk of them turned up in Tennessee (53), Michigan (41), Virginia (34) and Indiana's 28.