JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - "The largest outbreak of healthcare-associated infections in the United States". That's how the Centers for Disease Control describes the fungal meningitis outbreak. As of March 25th there have been more than 700 cases and 50 deaths reported in 20 states. With Tennessee having the largest number of reported cases of any state at 150.
"Well, I was quite shocked," says College of Public Health, Erika Wild.
We've learned Dr. John Dreyzehner played a pivotal role in coordinating the statewide response to the epidemic. He tells News 5, communication was key to solving this case.
"We wished it had never happened to begin with and I think part of what we need people to understand more is how valuable public health is and we're most valuable when you don't hear about something happening," Dr. Dreyzehner says.
He says now changes have been made when it comes to screening.
"Substantial progress is being made by our board of pharmacy addressing sterile compounding. But there's a lot of things we need to think about as we regulate that very important area that we all depend on for medications on a daily basis," he continues.
While the period of greatest risk is over, he says we are still likely to have cases show up in the future.
"There are still many people in the state suffering as a result of that very tragic outbreak."