The CDC has called for clinics and doctors to immediately identify those who could have been exposed between July 1 and Sept. 28. It could be weeks before any of the patients are in the clear.
“Sure I’m apprehensive, but there’s not a thing I can do except wait and see what happens,” said Richard Jenkins, an 81-year-old from Nashville who received his most recent shot Sept. 11 at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurology Surgery Center.
The chief medical officer for the Tennessee Department of Health said Friday the incubation period for the disease isn’t yet known and he advised at-risk patients to be vigilant for symptoms for weeks.
“A month is the shortest we’d possibly want to consider that. We’re looking at a longer period of time before we’d feel confident that somebody is out of the woods,” Dr. David Reagan said.
The company at the center of the outbreak, the New England Compounding Center, had been investigated by Massachusetts regulators in 2006. That led to an agreement for a full inspection of its drug compounding practices, including sterility.
A spokesman for NECC said the company would have no further comment Friday. It has previously said that it is cooperating with health investigators to determine the source of the infections.
Bivins, a widow who lives in western Kentucky about an hour from Evansville, Ind., received two injections in her lower back on Aug. 27. It was the first time she had received steroid injections and the constant pain in her lower back, hips and legs was eased.
She said she doesn’t blame the doctors — they were just trying to help her, not knowing the steroid could have been contaminated. She was told Thursday by Our St. Mary’s Surgicare Cross Pointe facility in Evansville, Ind., that she could be at risk, which made for a restless night. For now, she tries to pass the time by arranging things in the apartment she moved into a few days ago.
“I can’t sit around here and dwell on it all the time and go nuts,” she said.