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Fungal meningitis outbreak slowing, experts say

The number of new fungal meningitis cases is slowing according to new CDC data. So far 438 cases of fungal meningitis have been reported in an outbreak that has killed at least 32. All of the fungal meningitis cases are linked to defective pharmaceuticals from the Massachusetts based New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy.

ABC News reports that the slowdown in fungal meningitis cases is predictable because this form of meningitis is not contagious. The back steroid linked to the outbreak was recalled in September, and there is about a 42-day risk period for contracting the illness. The risk window is now closed, but the CDC expects new cases to continue to trickle in.

Health officials say that the average range for symptoms to appear is 0 to 56 days, although there have been reports of patients developing fungal meningitis in other outbreaks more than 150 days after being given contaminated steroids.

The outbreak could have been worse, but was contained due to a high degree of cooperation between local, state and federal health officials who traced the outbreak and informed patients and doctors.

“All of that coordination — the right hand knowing what the left was doing — has made a big difference in how quick we could come to an understanding of what was going on,” said Tennessee’s chief medical officer Dr. David Reagan.