CDC working around the clock to fight meningitis outbreak - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

CDC working around the clock to fight meningitis outbreak

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The fight against the meningitis outbreak continues, and Atlanta is right in the middle of it.

The outbreak has killed 15 people and more than 200 others have gotten sick. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta, have been working around the clock to keep those numbers from going up.

The outbreak has been traced to medicines made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts and shipped all over the country.

The CDC said the best defense is to make sure potential victims know what's going on. In order to raise awareness, the war room inside the CDC has basically turned into a call center to contact the more than 14,000 people possibly exposed to the tainted medication.

"It's a team approach. We are working with health departments, working with teams themselves and in some cases where there haven't been resources on a local level we have stepped in and picked up the slack and helped contact patients directly in some cases," said Dr. John Jernigen, the clinical investigation team leader at CDC.

And he said so far, so good.

"We think we've successfully identified and notified 90 percent of these patients," said Jernigen.

The patients aren't the only ones the CDC is worried about, they are also contacting doctors.

"Given that these are rare infections and most doctors are going to have no experience in treating infections, we want to provide guidance to them to make sure they follow correct steps in diagnosis and treatment," Jernigen said.

But even if all the patients and doctors are contacted, the outbreak might not be over. The CDC said it could take awhile.

"We think that fungal infections are slow to develop and therefore we are encouraging patients and physicians to be vigilant for onset of problems for next several months following infection," said Jernigen.

The good news is it's not contagious.

"If you haven't received an injection from one of the implicated medications there should be no concern for illness," said Jernigen.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow