No tuberculosis cases reported after hospital exposure

No active cases of tuberculosis have been detected among the mothers and infants who may have been exposed to the disease at a San Francisco hospital last month, a Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman said today.

About 960 mothers and their newborns were told in August they may have been exposed to tuberculosis after a part-time health care worker on the night shift in the Maternal Child Health unit at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center developed active tuberculosis, Kaiser spokeswoman Gerri Ginsburg said.

Patients, employees and hospital visitors who may have had contact with that employee between March 10 and Aug. 10 are being notified they should have a skin test performed and that infants should also undergo a physical exam and an X-ray, Ginsburg said.

All tests, services and medications provided in connection with the possible exposure are free of charge, Ginsburg said.

More than 95 percent of the mothers and infants possibly exposed have been tested and no “active” cases of tuberculosis have been detected, Ginsburg said.

Kaiser Permanente has not disclosed whether anyone has tested positive for tuberculosis, however. A positive skin test means the individual has been infected with tuberculosis but is not contagious, Ginsburg explained.

If a person tests positive, that person will receive follow-up testing, including a chest X-ray and antibiotics if appropriate, Ginsburg said.

While Kaiser Permanente is still in the process of contacting those who may have been exposed to the employee, Ginsburg said the fact that no one has developed active tuberculosis “is very encouraging.”

Ginsburg said the testing process is continuing and is open-ended.

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