Meningitis Outbreak: Illinois patients test negative for meningitis

October 9, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Dr. Randolph Chang, medical director of three Illinois clinics that used a possibly tainted steroid medication, says four patients received follow-up tests for meningitis and the results came back negative.

The outbreak has now spread to at least 119 cases in ten states. At least eleven have died.

ABC7 has learned that there are 12 cases of meningitis in Indiana linked to the outbreak. None of those cases have been fatal. Six Indiana facilities received the injectable back medication.

Patients seeking pain relief continue treatments with APAC pain centers.

None of the APAC facilities in Indiana received the suspected vials of injectable pain medication, but three of its Illinois centers did.

"The first thing we did was pull all the medications, so soon as we had the information, we immediately stopped using all the medicines," Chang said.

He says 164 patients were informed and eight patients were tested for meningitis.

"So far all the patients who had any symptoms who had the lumbar puncture test was negative," said Chang.

A synthetic steroid used to treat pain from a Massachusetts drug manufacturer is the subject of a federal investigation that is now linked to 119 cases of fungal meningitis and eleven deaths.

"Meningitis is always a very serious concern, because you got inflammation of the brain the linings of the brain and the spinal cord," said Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Hasbrouck is working with local and federal officials in documenting the suspect medication and trying to prevent similar problems.

"Many, many hundreds of folks have actually had injectable steroids, so it could be much, much worse, so I think the regulations are there -- we just have to be very vigilant in following them," said Hasbrouck.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious. The Massachusetts medication that was delivered locally has been collected by health officials as the federal investigation continues.

This injectable medication is an anti-inflammatory typically used for back pain. It is not the type of medication used in labor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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