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Tainted medicine batch sent to Columbus clinic

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COLUMBUS, Ind. — A Columbus pain management clinic received a batch of tainted medicine, linked to a fatal meningitis outbreak by the Centers for Disease Control.

Columbus Regional Health spokeswoman Paige Harden said Wellspring Pain Solutions has not yet released the number of patients potentially affected by steroid pain medicine that in some cases nationally has triggered deadly fungal meningitis and strokes.

No one has had a reaction here, according to Harden.

Wellspring has identified all patients who received injections of the steroid medicine to fight pain, Harden said. She added that Wellspring doctors will meet with each of those patients in the next few days.

Columbus' Dr. Michael Whitworth, chairman of the Indiana Pain Society, said a check earlier today with five of the six Indiana clinics which got the medicine, methylprednisolone acetate, showed that two patients — one in Evansville and one in South Bend — have been hospitalized. About 1,600 patients are linked to those clinics.

Harden said that fungal meningitis is not contagious and has a 90-day incubation period. That means that some patients may not exhibit harmful symptoms until December, since tainted shipments of the medicine were administered from July 1 to Sept. 26.

Symptoms of fungal meningitis are severe headache, nausea, fever, sensitivity to light, and extreme and severe neck stiffness. Harden said patients with such symptoms should call Wellspring at 376-0700 or go to the Columbus Regional Hospital emergency room.

"We're on high alert," she said.

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