News Release Center

10/10/2012 3:00:00 AM EASTERN
Updated: 3/20/2013 1:08:42 PM EASTERN
For more information, contact John Broom.
Steroids that cause meningitis outbreak not at ACMC

ASHTABULA - Patients who receive steroid-based injections as part of their pain management treatment at Ashtabula County Medical Center can feel confident that their injections are safe. ACMC does not use steroids linked to the recent fungal meningitis outbreak that is spreading across America.

ACMC’s Infection Control Practitioner Cindy Callahan, RN, said ACMC’s steroids are safe, and people should not worry about continuing their pain treatment at the Interventional Pain Center at ACMC.

The steroid drug that is behind the outbreak has been linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the New England Compounding Center, a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

The steroid is used in a specific pain management therapy, where it is injected into the back to help alleviate pain from sciatica or other ailment. The treatment has been around since the early 1950s.

ACMC Pharmacy Director Frank Caputo, RPh, said the hospital does not purchase steroids from the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, and uses only steroids from FDA approved pharmaceutical manufacturers.  ACMC’s pharmacy purchases the drug in question from Upjohn and Pfizer which are reputable, FDA approved drug manufacturers.

“We buy straight from the manufacturer. We do not purchase steroids from a compounding pharmacy. The FDA regularly inspects the facilities we work with to ensure compliance for safety and quality controls. They are reputable pharmaceutical companies,” he said.

Caputo said Ohio maintains the strictest standards of any state when it comes to drugs and the companies that make them.

Callahan said she is in daily contact with the CDC regarding the fungal meningitis outbreak, especially since it has been found in Cincinnati. As of Monday, there was only one case in Ohio.

The symptoms are following a specific pattern. Onset of symptoms occurs in 1 to 4 weeks of receiving the injection. Symptoms include fever, worsening headaches, nausea, and neurological problems including sensitivity to light, stiffening neck muscles, numbness or weakness, slurred speech and pain, redness or swelling at the injection site.

The CDC is advising anyone who has had a spinal steroid shot after May 21, 2012 to call their physician if they have any of these symptoms.

Fungal meningitis is not spread from person-to-person, so coming into contact with an infected person does not mean you will get the infection.

Callahan said the infection has not been reported in northeast Ohio.??