Five TB cases detected in El Paso

Five TB cases detected in El Paso

The El Paso Department of Public Heath on September 19 found that more than 700 patients and 40 employees were exposed to tuberculosis infection in the postpartum and newborn nursery of Providence Memorial Hospital between September 2013 and August 2014.

The infection was exposed by an employee who came with an active case of TB during that period. In order to identify patients who might have been exposed, hospital officials matched the infected worker's schedule to the dates newborns were at the facility between September 2013 and August 2014.

On Saturday, the department reported that five babies have tested positive for tuberculosis infection. However, the infants do not have active TB, the contagious and potentially fatal form of the disease. All five will be offered treatment, even though four of the children had been vaccinated in the past.

The department also reported that it is expanding the list of children who may have been exposed by 96, bringing the total to about 850. Authorities say that number could still increase.

The hospital has also sent letters to parents of children born between September 2013 and August 16 informing them of the active case at the hospital and offering free TB tests, and treatment if necessary. All of the babies that must be tested were born at Providence Memorial Hospital. So far, 200 babies have undergone X-ray and skin tests.

No information of the worker, including that person's occupation, has been yet provided by the Providence Memorial Hospital. Forty-three other hospital employees who worked with the infected person are also getting tested.

Tuberculosis bacteria usually attack the lungs but if left untreated, it can impact kidney and brain and can prove fatal. It is a communicable disease and its bacteria are transmitted through cough and sneeze.

According to health authorities, since babies have small lungs, they are at higher risk to get exposed to the disease. However, they do not spread the disease easily.

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