The State Health Department says it knew of an outbreak of fungal meningitis well before informing the public, but the department says the public was never at risk.
The health department did not make its first public confirmation that some in Indiana had contracted meningitis through a tainted steroid until October 4th, one week after the department was notified of cases in Tennessee and North Carolina by the Centers For Disease Control.
Unlike viral or bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not contagious – in this case, it was spread directly to patients who received injections for back pain. The steroid came from the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
A written statement from the health department says officials concentrated on notifying the clinics that received the steroid so that they could notify patients. The department says the six clinics that had the compound were contacted October 1st, three days after the CDC‘s first notification to Indiana, with all health care providers in the state notified the next day.
The statement says information was coming in quickly, and the health department was adhereing to policy by waiting to make sure the information they gave to the public was accurate.
Three people have died in Indiana during the outbreak; 46 people have become sick.