Metro Police & U.S. Marshals Join Fight Against Meningitis Outbreak
by Heather Graf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Police and U.S. Marshals have joined the fight to stop a deadly meningitis outbreak from taking more lives. The health department enlisted their help to locate at-risk patients.
On Friday, the CDC said there are now 338 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis nationwide. Of those, 25 cases are fatal. Sadly, the latest loss of life took place in Tennessee, bringing our state's death toll up to 10.
As the outbreak began in early October, state health officials wanted to make sure they made contact with each of the 1,000 Tennessee who received one of the tainted steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
To do that, the state enlisted the help of local health departments.
"They sent out a letter to everyone who may have received this medication," said Brian Todd with the Metro Health Department. "And we were then needed to follow up with those, to make sure they got the letter, and check on their welfare."
In Davidson County, that meant making contact with about 170 people.
Todd says the health department located most of them quickly. A few, though, were hard to get in touch with.
"I think there were two that had a wrong phone number, and we were calling that number," said Todd. "And there was one that had an apartment building but not a number."
That's when Metro Health decided to enlist the help of Metro Police, where officers are trained to track down wanted individuals, every day.
In one day, Todd says, officers were able to find and make contact with the five remaining at-risk patients that health officials hadn't yet spoken to.
"We're very thankful to the police department for that," said Todd.
Those last five patients were located just this week. So far, none of them are showing symptoms.
There are now 74 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Tennessee. Only those patients who received one of the tainted injections are at risk.