Meningitis In North Carolina

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services waited five days before it notified the public about the threat of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in the fall. Records obtained by the Associated Press provide a glimpse of how state officials deal with emerging health crises.

WFAE's Tasnim Shamma talks to the state's epidemiologist for this follow-up report.  

North Carolina health officials say a person from Davidson County is the latest to die in a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis. State health director Laura Gerald would not identify the person Saturday, but confirmed that the N.C. victim was the 23rd to die nationwide.

On Sunday, the woman's family identified her as 77-year-old Elwina Shaw of Denton. Family members told reporters she was sick with debilitating headaches for more than a month before health officials realized what was wrong.

While only two cases of meningitis in North Carolina have been tied to the national outbreak, local health officials are taking extra precautions. They’ve even made house calls to track down everyone who might be infected, so basically anyone in North Carolina who could be part of the outbreak should already know it.

"All 93 of the patients from the clinic in High Point and the clinic in Wilson have been contacted," said Julie Henry, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services.