AUSTIN, Texas — More than 700 infants at an El Paso hospital were exposed to tuberculosis (TB) by an employee of the hospital who was infected with the disease, reports CBS’ Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate. About 40 other employees of the hospital were also infected.
Officials with the El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted a review of the medical and employment records at Providence Memorial Hospital, and said that the exposures occurred between September 2013 and August of this year. The source of the exposure was an employee diagnosed with active TB who worked in the hospital’s post-partum and newborn nursery areas.
Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health authority for El Paso County, told media earlier today that hospital workers have all been tested for TB and are awaiting results. According to Dr. Ocaranza, TB is treatable and the exposure is not a public health threat, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the disease can be fatal if not treated properly.
To ensure that exposed patients do obtain the needed treatment, the families of every child born at the hospital during the exposure period were contacted by telephone and certified letters sent this week, according to a DPH press release. DPH is also coordinating efforts with the hospital, state officials, and the CDC to provide post-exposure screenings and any needed follow-up treatments free of charge to anyone affected. DPH has also established a website dedicated to providing information about the TB exposure, any news updates for the community, and medical information for patients.
DPH is asking any parents who received the notification letter that their child was exposed to please call 2-1-1 or 1-877-541-7905 Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time. Anyone who has not received a letter but suspects that their child may have been exposed can review a list of exposure dates and times posted online by DPH.
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