"They don't want other families going through the living nightmare they're currently going through," says Clayton.
The medical investigation has yet to provide his clients with a cause, but a leading theory is focusing on the New England Compounding Center. The Massachusetts pharmacy prepared steroid medication every victim so far received in an injection to help treat pain. Medical investigators believe it's possible a mold contaminated those injections before they were given to patients at medical facilities like St. Thomas Outpatient Center. Vanderbilt Medical Center's Dr. William Schaffner says compounding pharmacies like this one get their name because they alter drugs for a specific need, but they aren't regulated by the FDA in the same manner drug companies are. We did some checking and discovered 3 of the pharmacies' licenses have been voluntarily surrendered and the company has a history of complaints. A 2006 letter from the FDA listed 3 concerns, including mixing an anesthetic officials believed created public health risks. Health officials have yet to determine if it was a mistake here that caused the outbreak, but Dr. Schaffner says the scare brings new concerns about the drugs compounding pharmacies create.
"This has always been thought of as a gap and this is perhaps an example that needs to be looked at again," says Dr. Schaffner.
17 of Tennessee's Meningitis victims received an injection at the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center. The 18th received an injection at the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville. This same steroid medication also was shipped to the PCA Pain Care Center in Oak Ridge, but no cases of Meningitis have been reported yet in those patients. With more and more cases popping up, there are some symptoms you shouldn't ignore if you've been treated by these facilities. If you have stiff neck, high fever, vomiting and sensitivity to light, you need to talk to your doctor. We want to stress an outbreak of Fungal Meningitis is rare, and can't be transmitted from person to person. The more common types of the inflammation are Bacterial and Viral, which the CDC reports can be transmitted between people. Bacterial can be treated with antibiotics or steroids. There's no specific treatment for Viral. It basically has to run its course. We will continue to follow this outbreak and bring you any updates as soon as they happen. Friday, October 5 2012, 02:02 PM CDT