Meningitis Outbreak: 5 Dead

Some steroid shots contaminated with a fungus incite health scare.
3:00 | 10/05/12

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Transcript for Meningitis Outbreak: 5 Dead
And we turn to the growing outbreak of meningitis tonight, contracted there through that common ready for back pain, steroid shots in the spine. Today, we learned there are now 47 cases across seven states, at least five deaths. And a lot of people are wondering if they need to be frightened, too. Hundreds of calls pouring into health clinics and hospitals. Abc's chief medical editor dr. Richard besser has answers. Reporter: Millions of americans get these steroid shots for back pain every year. And today, the fears of tainted injections. Scared. You don't know what to do now. Reporter: So, hospitals like this one in tennessee are tracking down hundreds who may be at risk. And, you do have several symptoms listed on here. Reporter: The cdc has opened their emergency operations center today to deal with the outbreak. More than 17,000 vials of the drug were shipped. Some contaminated with a fungus that goes into the spinal fluid, up to the brain, and causes a rare formal of meningitis, whose symptoms is look like a stroke. To have a shot, six days later, you are fighting for your life. Reporter: Health officials tracked the problem to the new england compounding center in massachusetts, which has closed down operation. There are more than 7,500 compounding pharmacies in the country. They make 1% to 3% of all prescription drugs. And they can be lifesavers. Custom mixing their treatments for customers with special medical needs. But they operate with little federal oversight. This sort of contamination of material from a compounding pharmacy has happened before. These compounding pharmacies are not under the rigorous regular administration. Reporter: And now, patients in pain worried about what to do next. I'm not just concerned for me, I'm concerned for many. It is oa tense time. What do you do if you need the shot now? Reporter: Thankfully, this was all recalled last week so, if you are in this kind of pain, go ahead and get your treatment. But if you got one of these injections since july, visit our website, see if your clinic was involved. If it was, call your doctor to see if your drug was part of the recall. All right. Go to the website, check in with

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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