Tuberculosis Threatens More Than 700 Babies and 40 Health Workers In Texas Hospital

October 2, 2014- The El Paso, Texas Department of Health has announced that more than 700 babies and 40 health workers have been exposed to tuberculosis in a local hospital.

In a recent HEALTH: Infectious Disease post on the website, a spokesman with the Texas Department of State Health Services is quoted as saying it's "one of the largest TB exposure investigations we've ever been involved in."

Here are the highlights of the post:

• Sometime between September, 2013 and August, 2014 an employee with tuberculosis (TB) entered El Paso's Providence Memorial Hospital and worked in close proximity with infants. reports that the employee who was initially infected is no longer working at the hospital but is receiving treatment.

• It's not known at this time whether anyone exposed has tested positive for TB, which can be fatal. "Babies are more likely than older children and adults to develop life-threatening forms of TB," said Carrie Williams, director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, in the post.

• Providence Memorial Hospital has alerted each person at risk by phone call and letter and promised free health care for anyone infected.

• Williams' department has conducted an investigation and reports that the hospital’s infection-management standards were lacking. reports that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave the hospital an October 11 deadline to identify changes in protocol to prevent similar exposures in the future — otherwise it will cut off Medicare and Medicaid funding.

• Active TB can spread when an infected person coughs and sneezes. Treatment involves months of antibiotics, however a TB infection can be dormant in patients and not present symptoms like chest pains and breathing difficulties.

Read the full HEALTH: Infectious Disease post here.

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