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Local Health Departments Tested by Meningitis Outbreak

October 17, 2012
by Dylan Scott
Governing

 

As local health departments scramble to respond to the fungal meningitis outbreak that has spread to 15 states, infecting more than 200 and killing 15, it serves as a sobering reminder that the nation’s ability to confront such a crisis has been significantly reduced in recent years.

In many ways, the situation demonstrates the good and the bad about America’s public health system in an era of budget cuts and reduced government resources. Undoubtedly, many public health professionals have reacted admirably, contacting providers who may have received contaminated injections from the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy blamed for the outbreak and providing critical information to those who received them or are worried they may been exposed. As many as 14,000 people may be at risk, according to official estimates.

 

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