The now infamous outbreak of fungal meningitis began to occur in September, 2012. For the infectious disease team at Carilion Clinic, treating two dozen patients with a previously rare fungal infection was unprecedented. The team's efforts were featured in a Wall Street Journal article.
As they worked to help their patients overcome the illness, the team also studied the effectiveness of a diagnostic test that could help future patients suffering from fungal infections. The test allows doctors to quickly determine if a patient is infected and whether or not the treatment is working. This is important because medications used to treat fungal infections have serious side effects. If a medication isn't working, doctors need to know ASAP so they can switch to different medication. The longer the wait, the sicker the patient gets.
A paper about their research was published in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2013. The paper received the CDC's James H. Nakano Citation for Outstanding Scientific Papers, and was nominated for the Charles C. Shepard Science Award.
Carilion Clinic Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Tom Kerkering, describes how his team's experience with the outbreak will help doctors and patients in the future.