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California Nurse May Have Exposed Tuberculosis to at least 1,000 People

Update Date: Dec 14, 2015 09:27 AM EST
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At least 1,000 people at a California hospital could have been exposed to tuberculosis. Hospital officials reported on Sunday that a nurse working in the maternity wing has tested positive for the infection.

"Everyone should feel confident that our staff are appropriately screened for tuberculosis and the safety of patients and staff is our top priority," the chief executive of the hospital, Paul Lorenz, said in a Facebook post.

The officials at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, located in San Jose, stated that 1,026 people, who include 350 infants, 308 employees and 368 parents, could have contracted the illness between August and November.

The chairman of pediatrics, Dr. Stephen Harris, stated in a statement that the risk of an infection is low. He cautioned that an infection in infants, however, could lead to serious and severe consequences.

"We are committed to the safety of our patients and staff," said Dr. Harris. "That's why we decided to do widespread testing and start preventative treatments for these infants as soon as possible."

Infants are currently receiving diagnostic screenings and a daily dose of an antibiotic called isoniazid to prevent them from developing the illness.

"This incident is an unfortunate reminder that TB remains an ongoing health concern for our community", said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer. "The Public Health Department is working closely with our SCVMC colleagues to support their efforts in addressing the needs of their patients and staff. "

Tuberculosis is a contagious illness caused by a bacterium that typically attacks the lungs. Common symptoms include fever, cough, chills, chest pain and weakness or fatigue.

According to the statement, every one who was potentially exposed is currently being contacted. Spokeswoman Joy Alexiou added that the screening process has already begun at the hospitals' urgent care center.

In 2014, the CDC reported that there were 9,421 cases of tuberculosis.

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