Meningitis scare has Montgomery doctors prepared

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Five people have died and at least 47 are sick from a Meningitis outbreak plaguing seven states.

So far, 17,000 vials of a tainted steroid have been recalled and production at the New England Compounding Center--where the drug is believed to have been produced--has been shut down.

Alabama physicians say they haven't been affected by the tainted medication. But if they were, doctors at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery say they have a plan to keep the contaminated medication away from patients.

Nursing may be a new career for Amanda Hadden. But even with only four months on the job at Jackson Hospital, she knows how much responsibility she has when it comes to human life.

"I think about 'oh my goodness,' I'm administering this medication. I get nervous about reactions. Are they going to have a reaction?"

Luckily Hadden hasn't had to steer clear of any steroid medication since many Alabama hospitals and physicians say they didn't order medicine from the Massachusetts pharmacy.

But that doesn't mean something like this couldn't happen here.

That's why medical professionals say they're always on top of the latest medical news.

"I do research. I do a lot of research. If it's something I'm not familiar with I do research it before I give it," adds Hadden.

"It's a contaminant and a contaminant in drugs is just like food contamination. We've heard of the cases in different states from outbreaks from different kinds of vegetables and this is no different," says ER Physician Norman Garrison.

Garrison admits drug contamination is difficult to catch before that specific medicine enters the market. But once physicians realize the drug is compromised, hospital administrators say they immediately pull it from the shelves and patients are called back to the hospital.

"Yeah, we want to check them," adds Garrison.

"Anything's possible, but we do our best to prevent what we can," says Hadden.

Of the seven states affected by the outbreak, three of them border Alabama. Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health say if you received medical care from Georgia, Florida or Tennessee you should call those facilities to make sure you weren't infected.

For the full Alabama Department of Public Health press release and possible symptoms of Meningitis click here.

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