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Death linked to clinic

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Health officials say an out-of-state resident has died from fungal meningitis after receiving an injection in Indiana of a tainted back-pain medication.

Indiana State Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said Thursday the person lived in another state but received an injection of the tainted medication in Indiana. He said he could not disclose any additional information on the death, including the clinic that distributed the steroid.

Wellspring Pain Solutions in Columbus was among the six clinics to receive the steroid in Indiana. The others are in Elkhart, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Terre Haute.

Severson said the total number of Indiana cases has risen to 21. He added that 1,568 people were exposed to the tainted medicine, a steroid recalled by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

Paige Harden, spokesperson for Columbus Regional Hospital, said that due to privacy issues, all information pertaining to confirmed cases and deaths must come from the Department of Health.

Locally, 309 patients at Columbus’ Wellspring Pain Solutions could have received injections from the tainted batch of methylprednisolone, a common back-pain mediation, shipped from the specialty New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

Dr. Drew Robertson of Wellspring said earlier this week that he and other physicians are examining patients who may have been exposed to the disease, and that at least 10 of his clinic’s patients have received spinal taps to test for meningitis.

Robertson told The Republic that all tests so far had come back negative, although patients will continue to be monitored in the coming weeks, as fungal meningitis can appear up to 90 days after exposure.

Nationwide, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 14 deaths and 170 cases in 11 states.

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