The small town of Alliance, Ohio, about an hour or so south of Cleveland, is still on standby this morning, awaiting a medical diagnosis that could affect the lives of thousands of its residents. CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers has the story.
Test results will determine whether Alliance resident Christin Van Camp has the same strain of meningitis that killed two teenagers last month. When the 18-year-old was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis Saturday, tens of thousands of residents flocked to area hospitals, desperate for drugs they feel could save their lives. Helicopters had to fly in additional supplies of antibiotics.
One bystander complained that there was no medicine even in neighboring towns. "There was no medicine in Salem, Canton, and we're waiting until like 3 in the morning, when you could get it at Maseline."
The panic follows the deaths of two high school sophomores who may have shared a water bottle. This particular strain of meningitis is spread through personal contact, such as sharing utensils or kissing. Van Camp attends another high school, but one with strong social ties to the other boys' school. She remains in critical but stable condition. Local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that if the strain is the same, vaccinations will replace the antibiotic pills.
"There's a difference in longevity; the antibiotic is short in terms of its effectiveness, with the vaccine providing a broader, longer coverage." said Nick Baird of the Ohio Department of Health.
At this point the biggest fear is uncertainty, as it's unclear where the meningitis originated and how far it may have spread.
©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed