Mount Pleasant clinic got possibly tainted steroid

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina health officials say one clinic in Mount Pleasant received a batch of drugs used for steroid shots that have been linked to a rare form of meningitis.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday that no cases of fungal meningitis have been reported in South Carolina. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about three dozen people in six other states have contracted meningitis. 5 of them have died.

The CDC says Intervene MD is the clinic in South Carolina. Officials say they have notified 177 of the 189 patients who got spinal steroid injections from the clinic to discuss their health and the symptoms of meningitis.

Here is a statment released by Intervene MD:

We want to address the outbreak of fungal meningitis which you may have heard about and is in the national news. Tragically, cases of a rare form of meningitis have been implicated nationwide in the illnesses of 35 people and in the deaths of five people who have received epidural pain relief injections to help them manage back pain.  

We, as do all doctors, rely on the safe production and sterility of the medications used in our treatments. This is a very rare and unusual situation.

Unfortunately, our practice was one of those provided medications from the manufacturer. We were notified by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Friday, September 21st that we had received suspect medicines from lots produced between July 31 and September 16. We immediately removed all vials of the medication from use and returned them to the manufacturer.

Because we are concerned, we have made every effort to determine each and every patient who may have received epidural treatment with this medication. We have personally spoken with almost all of the 189 people affected. We continue to call and work to get in touch with each person who received this medication by epidural injection. There are a few patients we've not been able to reach by telephone, despite multiple attempts, and we are sending follow-up letters that detail signs and symptoms to watch for until the possibility of illness passes. Each person has been asked to seek immediate emergency treatment if they have any symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this illness takes from one week to one month following exposure to develop.

It is a relief that none our our patients are showing any signs or symptoms of meningitis. Two -- at our urging -- have gone to the emergency room for further examination. Tests determined that they do not have meningitis.

We have been and continue to be available to speak with our patients. We invite them to phone us with any questions, issues or anxiety. We are providing medical counseling and following all CDC recommendations.

We urge anyone who has recently had epidural treatment for back pain to contact their doctor. If you are our patient and have questions, we want you to call us.

Epidural steroid injections for the management of pain have been used for many years and have relieved pain in thousands. This treatment has allowed many individuals to experience an improved quality of life and be more productive.

DHEC says residents don't need to worry unless they have heard from the clinic or the agency.

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