Meningitis: Whitley County in the clear, cases expected to drop

COLUMBIA CITY — Despite the outbreak of fungal meningitis affecting clinics in Indiana, Whitley County remains in the clear. Cases of illnesses and deaths are soon expected to take a drastic downward spiral.According to Whitley County Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hatcher, three lots of contaminated methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid prepared by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), of Framingham, Mass. was the cause of several cases affecting a total of 18 states.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the case count has reached 344, with a total of 25 deaths reported — three from Indiana. Other states affected include Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.“The symptoms have been reported in people who received a contaminated medical injection from an epidural or joint injection in the past one to four weeks,” said Hatcher. “We should be hitting the peak here soon.”According to the Associated Press (AP), the CDC first notified officials at an Indiana health agency, Sept. 28, it was investigating meningitis cases in Tennessee and North Carolina.The state health department contacted six health facilities in Indiana which received the suspected medication by Oct. 1, according to the AP. These health facilities were clinics located in Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Evansville, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.According to the AP, Indiana, as well as other states, did not receive data from the CDC defining how to recognize cases considered to be part of the outbreak until Oct. 2.Three days later, health officials were alerted of a confirmed case in Indiana on Oct. 4, the same day they knew of its first case, according to the AP. Hatcher said Fungal Meningitis is extremely difficult to treat.“If someone has Fungal Meningitis it’s extremely serious,” said Hatcher. “The person affected may become quite ill and need to take potent antibiotics.”Hatcher said the most common symptoms people experience with this illness is a headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.For more information on Fungal Meningitis, visit