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Meningitis outbreak causes concern for local patients

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 7, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Physicians at Advanced Neurologic Associates and the Pain Management Center at Fisher-Titus Medical Center have reported receiving calls from patients concerned about the recent meningitis outbreak linked to steroid injections to the lower back, a common treatment for back pain.

The infections, which are being widely reported in the national news, have been linked to a drug compounding center in Massachusetts, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A compounding pharmacy is one that custom mixes medications in doses or forms that are generally not commercially available.

“We are certainly aware of the problem and want to reassure our patients that we do not use these medications in our treatments,” said William Bauer, M.D. PhD., Advanced Neurologic Associates. “We do not use anything from compounding pharmacies. We use traditional manufactured compounds that are regulated by the FDA.”

Dr. Adam Hedaya of the Fisher-Titus Pain Management Center also said that the Center does not use the suspected medications for their patients who are treated with steroid injections to the lower back. 

According to the CDC, meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The type of fungal meningitis involved in this outbreak is not contagious like the more common forms of meningitis.

Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person. These cases are associated with a potentially contaminated medication. Investigation into the exact source is ongoing; however, interim data show that all infected patients received injection with preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml) prepared by New England Compounding Center, located in Framingham, MA.

Ohio is part of a multistate investigation the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are coordinating regarding the outbreak of fungal meningitis among patients who received an epidural steroid injection.

According to the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is working with CDC as there are a few clinics in Ohio that received the identified methylprednisolone.  Ohio local health jurisdictions have contacted those facilities and are working to ensure that the facilities contact patients who may have been given the methylprednisolone.  ODH is not aware of any related illnesses in Ohio but is working with the local health department partners to ensure that active case surveillance is done.

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