A hospital nurse in San Jose, California, may have exposed more than 1,000 people to tuberculosis this fall, CBS News reported. Among those possibly infected are 368 new mothers, 350 infants and 338 employees at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Dr. Stephen Harris, the medical center’s chair of pediatrics, said the babies are the ones at greatest risk of possible infection, which could lead to death in some cases. A tuberculosis infection in an infant can spread throughout the body by way of the bloodstream, while such an infection in either a toddler or an adult is relegated to the lungs.
The medical center said the nurse at the center of the issue didn’t have any symptoms, so it is unlikely anybody was exposed. The hospital’s employees get tuberculosis screenings annually, but the nurse’s condition was not diagnosed until after the September screenings were completed. It was notified about the TB in November after the nurse was screened for an unrelated medical condition.
The medical center took a month in preparing to notify patients of possible exposures to determine when such exposures might have happened and to consult with experts on treatment options. The hospital is now working to notify parents of the infants.
"This incident is an unfortunate reminder that TB remains an ongoing health concern for our community," Dr. Sara Cody, a Santa Clara County public-health officer, told ABC News. "The Public Health Department is working closely with our SCVMC colleagues to support their efforts in addressing the needs of their patients and staff."
350 Infants Possibly Exposed to Tuberculosis by California Hospital Employee ... - ABC News https://t.co/oTQvEPdwuK
— adamspickter (@adamspickter) December 12, 2015
The notice of the possible infections came in the wake of several tuberculosis outbreaks across the U.S. About 15 cases of TB, which can be associated with symptoms such as chronic fatigue and coughing, were reported in the Sunset Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York between June 2013 and April 2015. And in March, 27 people at a high school in Kansas tested positive for the infection, the Huffington Post reported.