INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — All three Indiana deaths from fungal meningitis caused
by injections of a recalled back pain medication have been linked to Elkhart
County, as have more than two-thirds of the state’s 41 total cases, the
county’s health officer confirmed Wednesday.
Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Dan Nafziger confirmed the deaths and 28
cases of the meningitis but declined to discuss any specific cases.
State and federal health officials updated Indiana’s numbers Wednesday to 41
total cases and three deaths — including that of one out-of-state resident.
Relatives of 89-year-old Pauline Burema of Cassopolis, Mich., have said they
believe she contracted the disease after receiving an injection at the OSMC
Outpatient Surgery Center in Elkhart. Burema died Oct. 10.
The Elkhart County Health Department is tracking each of the 28 cases linked
to the northern Indiana county, which is east of South Bend and borders
Michigan, Nafziger said.
Most patients have responded well to treatment, he said.
“A number of patients have been sent home from the hospital already,”
Nafziger said. “The majority of the patients that have been diagnosed are
back out in the community.”
Fungal meningitis is not contagious, health officials have said.
The Indiana State Department of Health has identified the OSMC clinic as one
of six Indiana clinics that received contaminated steroids from the New
England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass. All of the steroids have
been voluntarily recalled.
Nafziger said the clinic and area hospitals have responded well to the
“I think it’s been a very difficult circumstance for the providers. It’s not
anything anyone foresaw,” he said.
The state health department said Indiana has 1,502 people who were exposed
to the contaminated medication through an epidural or joint injection. The
five other Indiana clinics that received the contaminated steroids are
located in Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.
“Unfortunately the number of patients and victims has grown,” Health
Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin said in a news release. “Every patient
exposed in Indiana has been contacted by their healthcare provider. “
Nationwide, there have been 24 deaths and 317 cases of fungal meningitis in
17 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported
The Centers for Disease Control: