Monday, September 10, 2012

Babies possibly exposed to tuberculosis at Methodist Hospital; Sacramento ... - Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County public health officials said they are investigating whether infants in Methodist Hospital of Sacramento have been exposed to tuberculosis while in the neonatal intensive care unit.

An individual with active tuberculosis spent time in the neonatal facility from Aug. 23 to Sept. 3, public health officials said. The person, whose name is being withheld, is currently isolated and receiving treatment to prevent the spread of tuberculosis.

In consultation with the California Department of Public Health, county officials are working with the leadership of the hospital to assess all patients, visitors and staff to determine who may have been exposed to the tuberculosis germ and given treatment.

Parents of exposed babies are currently being contacted, while others potentially exposed will be contacted within the next few days. "Although it may be a new experience for the patients, visitors and staff, contact investigations are a regular activity for Sacramento County Public Health TB Program staff, who receive new active TB disease cases regularly each month," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, a health officer. "TB is preventable and curable."

Any patients, visitors or staff determined to have been exposed will be evaluated and given appropriate treatment, if needed.

Tuberculosis is a serious, treatable, and slow-growing bacterial lung disease that is transmitted through microscopic droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking or singing. The most common way to become infected with TB germs is by spending a lot of time in enclosed air spaces with a person who has active TB disease. For general TB information, visitwww.cdc.gov/tb/.

During business hours, Sacramento County residents can contact Sacramento County Public Health at 916-875-5881.

Last May, Sacramento and Solano County health officials said dozens of babies in neonatal care needed testing or immediate antibiotics because their tender ages put them at greater risk of contracting tuberculosis. Those exposures occurred at Sacramento's Sutter Memorial Hospital and Fairfield's NorthBay Medical Center.

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