National attention has been focused on rare, potentially deadly fungal meningitis and drug safety after health officials discovered a link between growing reports of the illness and a steroid made at a Massachusetts company.

Patients at a local pain clinic may have received doses of the suspect steroid, but so far there have been no confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in South Carolina.

But in 14 other states, new fungal meningitis cases and deaths have been reported daily. In response, state and federal officials have been scrambling to assess the situation and reassure the public.

The disease and investigation are complex, but there is basic information about the situation that addresses health concerns as experts work to contain the outbreak and prevent more fatalities.

Q. What is fungal meningitis?

A. It is a rare infection that is usually the result of the spread of a fungus through the blood to the spinal cord. Although anyone can get fungal meningitis, people with weak immune systems, like those with AIDS or cancer, are at higher risk.

Q. Who is at risk?

A. The disease is not contagious. Those who may be at risk received one or more spinal injections of a possibly-tainted steroid. Currently, 257 patients who received spinal injections of methylprednisolone acetate at Intervene MD of Mount Pleasant and North Charleston are being monitored. None have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis, but 12 were referred for further evaluation. No other South Carolina clinics are currently involved in the situation.

Read more in Monday’s editions of The Post and Courier.