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Meningitis outbreak spreads to Ohio, too

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 8:24 p.m.

The rare fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed seven people and sickened more than 60 across several states has been found in Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday that it has confirmed one case in Ohio, but it did not say where. Ohio's Health Department confirmed there was one documented illness, and it was gathering information about the case.

The CDC has said the outbreak may have been caused by a steroid made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, where inspectors found at least one sealed vial that was contaminated. It's not yet clear how the fungus got into the steroid, which is commonly used to treat back pain.

The CDC said facilities in 23 states received the steroid implicated in the outbreak, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said no cases of illness have been reported in the state, but the drug associated with the outbreak was used at Allegheny Pain Management in Altoona and South Hills Pain and Rehab Associates locations in Jefferson Hills, Bethel Park, Monessen and Brentwood.

Dr. Michael Drass, an Altoona physician, says he has pulled all drugs shipped by the specialty pharmacy.

Drass, of Allegheny Pain Management says he's also re-evaluating whether to rely on compounding pharmacies for the medicines he uses to treat his patients.

South Hills Pain and Rehab Associates has said in a statement that it is attempting to contact each patient who received the drug and has reached most of them by phone. The rest will receive a certified letter.

Pennsylvania health officials said there have been no reports of death or illness in the state so far.

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