Meningitis outbreak spreads; 35 reported cases - FOX 32 News Chicago

Steroid linked to meningitis outbreak sent to Chicago area

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A medical practice specializing in pain management has notified about 200 Chicago-area patients who may have received injections of a steroid medication linked to an outbreak of a deadly form of meningitis.

The outbreak has prompted a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Typically the epidural steroid injection is performed in the lumbar spine.

READ MORE: Meningitis symptoms, causes, treatment

Rush University Medical Center Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran spent Thursday evening on a conference call with FDA and CDC representatives as they advised physicians about a tainted batch of products manufactured by the New England Compound Center in Massachusetts.

The company is apparently linked to five deaths caused by an injectable steroid medication.

"That lot was checked out already at Rush and I'm happy to say that we have never used this product and we have never used this specific pharmaceutical company to purchase any of those products," says Dr. Buvanendran.

So far the CDC says there have been 47 reported meningitis cases - 25 reported in Tennessee. Some are improving and some are in critical condition.

The CDC says three lots of the tainted product were shipped to 23 states including Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The Illinois Department of Public Health tells Fox Chicago News there are no cases in Illinois - their investigation is ongoing.

Dr. Buvanendran says epidural steroid injections are most commonly used for back pain.

"Typically you would see the meningitis symptoms coming up in 24-48 hours period and typically you would see having headaches, fever, fatigue and then you may have neck stiffness," Dr. Buvanendran explains.

Fox Chicago News has learned patients most at risk are those who have already received the epidural steroid injection.

A hotline has been set up to respond to concerns: 708-699-5402.

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