Kaiser calls new mothers to warn about TB threat

Nearly 1,000 babies under six months old and their mothers could have contracted tuberculosis from a night-shift health-care worker at Kaiser Permanente's San Francisco Medical Center.

Tuesday morning, Kaiser staff began calling the approximately 960 new mothers who gave birth at the center's maternal child health unit between March 10 and August 10 to offer free tuberculosis tests, according to company spokeswoman Gerry Ginsburg.

“They will be contacted by their personal physician and they will be able to receive care where it's most convenient for them,” Ginsburg said.

Employees, hospital visitors and other patients who had “significant contact” with the infected worker are also being contacted and offered free tests, according to a statement by senior spokesman Tony Rau.

“Some of the infants being tested will be treated with antibiotics as a precaution,” Rau said.

“We believe there is an extremely low risk of patients contracting TB as a result of this individual case,” Rau said.

There will be no charge for treatment, according to Rau.

Tuberculosis is a sometimes-deadly disease caused by infection by a certain type of bacteria which often targets the lungs.

Symptoms can include coughing and fevers.

The strain of tuberculosis that afflicted the health-care worker can be treated with a nine-month dose of antibiotic, according to Rau.

The part-time health-care worker stopped working for the company on Aug. 10, according to Rau.

Rau encouraged patients and other people concerned about potential infections to call 1-800-464-4000.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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