An employee at San Jose’s Santa Clara Valley Medical Centre may have exposed 350 babies recently, to tuberculosis (TB). Additionally, there is a possibility that over 365 mothers or guardians, as well as over 300 employees at risk as well.
The California hospital said that in mid-November it was given notice that one of its staff members was thought to have active TB. The employee worked in the newborn nursery department, and was immediately placed on leave.
Stephen Harris, Santa Clara Valley Medical Centre’s chair of pediatrics noted that there is minimal risk of infection, however consequences of the illness on a newborn can be severe. Widespread testing and preventive actions were also put in place, as soon as the hospital could, he added.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,421 cases of tuberculosis within the U.S. The infection is airborne, which means it can spread when someone who is infected simply sneezes, coughs, or spits; and those germs are passed on when an uninfected individual ingests them. An individual can also be infected by TB, but not become ill from the disease. The illness can be treated with antibiotics for lengthy periods of time, however if it is not treated sufficiently, it can result in death.
The San Jose hospital reports that it is contacting mothers who were at the medical center between August to November, and it will be offering testing and preventative treatments for those babies that were in its care. Mothers, guardians, and staff who might have been exposed will be screened and offered any treatment necessary. The hospital’s spokesperson has already confirmed that most, if not all, staff have been tested, and there seems to be no positives.
CNN reported that the hospital has stated that the nurse who is said to have caused this exposure took her annual TB screening in September, which came out negative. Later, her doctor found tuberculosis when the employee took an evaluation for another medical issue (unrelated) that arose.