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Positive Cases of Tuberculosis in Las Vegas Outbreak

Update Date: Dec 26, 2013 11:13 AM EST

A tuberculosis outbreak in Las Vegas, NV has afflicted 59 people according to the city's public health officials. After a suspected tuberculosis outbreak was linked to a neonatal unit, the Southern Nevada Health District proceeded to test 977 people for the infection. The officials reported that out of the 59 people who showed indications of the disease, only two of the cases had symptoms that could be potentially contagious.

"We want physicians to really think about making the diagnosis and quarantining, and then calling us," the chief medical officer at the health district, Dr. Joe Iser said according to FOX News Latino. "This has been very expensive for us in terms of time and effort and dollars."

The officials stated that the 59 cases might not all be linked to the outbreak that started in the neonatal unit. They reported that some of the positive test results were from immigrants who lived in countries where tuberculosis is common. The 59 patients are all recommended to accept treatment

The outbreak started roughly a few months ago when a case of tuberculosis went undetected and untreated at the Summerlin Hospital Medical Center. According to the state report, a woman was admitted at the hospital where she gave birth to premature twin girls in May. After she was discharged, the mother had returned to the hospital several times to visit her newborns. During this time, she was carrying the contagious lung disease. Due to the missed condition, the woman, 25-year-old Vanessa White, lost one of her daughters in June. White died roughly a month later and her autopsy revealed that she was indeed suffering from tuberculosis. Her other daughter died shortly after in August.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, there were 569 reported deaths due to tuberculosis. The number of deaths due to this infection has declined steadily over the past decade. Tuberculosis can be spread via coughing, sneezing or even just speaking. Common symptoms are coughing, chest pain, fatigue and fever. The infection typically attacks the lungs first and could start to affect nearby organs if the infection is not treated.

As of right now, the health officials plan on testing infants who were hospitalized during the outbreak. The officials want to track the infants within the upcoming months to make sure they are protected and safe from the infection.

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