CDC adopts lead role in communicating deadly meningitis outbreak

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website is a case study in how to communicate well during a crisis; the pharmaceutical company that’s the focus of the investigation is not.

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The CDC has a primary focus on infectious diseases, not pharmaceutical or regulatory issues that seem to be the case in this outbreak. But it is clear that the Federal Drug Administration and government regulators needed help given the scope of the outbreak, and the CDC’s expertise in getting information quickly to a lot of people made sense.

The CDC has spread the word on social media, through its various Twitter handles such as @CDCemergency and on its Facebook page. It also created a robust landing page.

State and local health officials have contacted more than 12,000 of the estimated 14,000 people exposed to the steroid, which the CDC and FDA say is thought to be contaminated by one or more species of fungus. There have been 14 deaths to date.

On Friday, more information was revealed about the outbreak linked to injections of steroid used to manage pain. The investigation focused on a Massachusetts drug producer.

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