The Straits Times
Published on Oct 13, 2012

Long wait for answers in US tainted drug outbreak


CHICAGO (AFP) - Thousands of Americans who may have been injected with a tainted steroid will have to wait weeks to see if they have been infected with meningitis as investigators seek answers to a widening outbreak.

That is because testing for the deadly fungus carries its own risks and only a small fraction of the nearly 14,000 people exposed have gotten sick, health officials said.

"It will take months for this whole story to be told," said Mr John Dreyzehner, head of the department of health in Tennessee, the hardest-hit United States (US) state.

The number of cases nationwide has risen sharply since health officials began contacting patients in 23 states to warn them of the danger, climbing from 64 on Oct 6 to 185 on Friday. The death toll currently stands at 14, with six of the fatalities in Tennessee.