Meningitis outbreak: No tainted shots in Coachella Valley

POSTED: 09:31 PM PDT Oct 05, 2012    UPDATED: 05:56 PM PDT Oct 06, 2012 
COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. -

The number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has grown. There are now 47 cases in seven states. Five people have died.

This outbreak has been traced back to steroid shots used to treat back pain.
Some of the tainted shots were sent to California, but we've found out none of them have made their way to the Coachella Valley. But that doesn't mean patients still aren't concerned.

Sharon Wingate, who lost her husband to the outbreak, says "To have a shot and six days later you're fighting for your life and you lose your life."

It's a danger that is very real. In fact, we've taken several calls from people who are worried they could be infected, and aren't getting any answers from their doctors.

Richard Jenkins, who received the shot in Tennessee, says, "They didn't say anything about the meningitis outbreak, or anything like that, or I need to take any kind of precautions or if I had any kind of symptoms to notify them or whatever."

So where are these potentially deadly vials of steroids? We did some checking. So far, all of the 47 people who have gotten sick are in the eastern part of the United States.

17,000 vials were sent to clinics in 23 states, including four facilities in California. They are in Visalia, Encino, Ukiah, and Palmdale. None of the vials were sent to the Coachella Valley.

All of the vials have been recalled, but the California Department of Public Health says 300 shots were already given out. Those people have been notified of their potential exposure, but so far no cases of meningitis have been reported.

John Jernigan, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, says, "CDC is working with state and local health departments to contact patients who received the recalled lots of this medication, to inform that they may have been exposed. So it's possible we might identify more cases in the coming days."

To view the complete list of where the shots were sent click here.