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Wellspring patients free of meningitis

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None of the 309 patients of Wellspring Pain Solutions in Columbus who could have gotten tainted steroid back-pain injections this summer have exhibited signs of fungal meningitis. The outbreak had caused eight deaths nationwide as of Monday afternoon.

Sheryl Robertson, a nurse and part-owner of the local medical practice, said some patients exhibited symptoms since Friday that Wellspring doctors thought could be suspicious. But, she said, all the tests have come back negative.

She said Wellspring staff members expect to complete follow-up visits by next week with local patients seen July 1 to Sept. 28. Those are the dates the Columbus practice unknowingly used a tainted shipment of methylprednisolone acetate — commonly used for pain — from New England Compounding Center Inc. in Framingham, Mass.

Staff at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the batch of medicine sent to Columbus, along with five other Indiana practices and elsewhere nationally, somehow was tainted by a fungus.

Wellspring medical professionals have been working from 8 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m. in recent days to check patients worried they might have received a pain shot infected by an aspergillus fungus.

The tainted medicine had sickened more than 105 people in nine states by Monday afternoon, according to federal health officials. The facility has shut down production and recalled the steroid.

Eight people in Indiana have confirmed fungal infections out of the 1,409 calculated to be at risk in the state, according to Columbus’ Dr. Michael Whitworth, chairman of the Indiana Pain Society.

Columbus Regional Hospital has treated no patients complaining of meningitis-related symptoms — severe headache, nausea, fever, sensitivity to light and extreme neck stiffness — according to spokeswoman Paige Harden.

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