Tennessee's Chief Medical Officer Details Meningitis Outbreak
by Heather Graf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's now been a full month since state health officials first announced a cluster of fungal meningitis cases among patients in Tennessee. Since then, 11 people in this state have died, and dozens more are sick.
On Thursday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Reagan said the end is finally in sight.
Dr. David Reagan said his team has now developed a risk model that shows the worst will be behind us on November 8.
"It predicts that a week from now, all the patients who were exposed to contaminated steroids in Tennessee will be past the major risk period," he said. "So, past actually 99 percent of the risk of either stroke or death by the next week."
Reagan said it's the day his staff has been working toward, ever since the first cases started showing up.
Still, he knows it comes too late for so many families. He said the 11 fatalities in Tennessee weigh heavy on the hearts of everyone at the State Department of Health.
It's why Reagan hopes lessons will be learned from this tragedy, and tougher laws will be put in place.
"It is something that is preventable," he said. "I think the resolution has got to be, how do you make a system where there are enough checks and balances where that is simply never going to happen again."
Currently, there are about 30 people still being treated for fungal meningitis at hospitals across the state.
Dr. Reagan said some of them are still in dire condition, and he said it is likely more deaths will take place in Tennessee before this is all over.
Meanwhile, federal investigators said they've now discovered bacterial contamination in two more drugs produced by the New England Compounding Center.
CDC and FDA investigators raided and examined drugs from NECC, which is the facility that produced the tainted steroid shots blamed for the fungal meningitis outbreak.
Now, test results reveal bacteria commonly found in soil in two different drugs: a steroid and a medicine used in heart surgery. So far, no infections have been reported from those medications.