TB Infected Worker Exposes Hundreds At Emory University Hospital, USA
27 May 2011
Over 680 patients and a considerable number of employees were exposed to TB (tuberculosis) at Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. According to local media reports, exposure started in November 2010 and continued for several months - the employee did not know he was infected until April 2011.
In May 2011 the state Department of Community Health started contacting people about possible exposure. Emory University Hospital says it routinely screens its employees once a year.
US health authorities estimate that approximately 11 million Americans are infected with latent TB, of which between 5% to 10% go on to develop active TB. Latent TB is not contagious and has no symptoms.
Lance M. Skelly, spokesperson for Emory University Hospital, announced:
"Emory University Hospital has determined that some patients and employees have been exposed to an active case of tuberculosis (TB) between the dates of Nov. 7, 2010 and April 17, 2011. At this time, there are 680 patients, and approximately 100 employees, who have been identified as having been in contact with the infected individual. Each person has been contacted and provided proactive screening instructions. Post- exposure follow-up will also be provided free of charge through the patient's local county health department. Emory University Hospital officials are collaborating with state officials to rapidly facilitate these screenings.
As an additional safeguard to ensure full notification, both Emory and the Georgia Department of Community Health build in an additional three months of time from the date of discovered infection. In this case, that additional precautionary time covers the time period between Nov. 7, 2010 and Feb. 7, 2011.
Although Emory takes many steps to ensure a safe environment for our patients and employees, it was found that a hospital staff member, who unknowingly carried the infection, came in contact with these patients and employees. As a condition of employment, all Emory Healthcare employees are screened for TB during the hiring process, and must receive updated screenings each year.
The TB-infected employee was proactive in seeking and obtaining additional tests, including a chest x-ray, when a persistent cough would not subside. Under State law, the Georgia Department of Community Health and patients who may have been exposed must be notified. Once tests, including the x-ray and lab culture confirmed tuberculosis, Emory University Hospital administrators quickly contacted the appropriate state agency and began a full investigation into the number of patients and employees who may have been exposed, and prepared a plan to notify our employees and patients."
Tuberculosis, also known as TB is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a type of bacterium. Although the lungs are the main site of infection, the CNS (central nervous system), circulatory and lymphatic systems can also be affected (as well as other parts of the body). TB used to be called consumption, because of the way it appears to consume an infected patient from within.
The bacteria multiply in the lungs, causing pneumonia, chest pains, and prolonged coughing - the patient may cough up blood. The lymph nodes close to the lungs and heart become swollen. The body's immune system often interrupts the bacteria's attempts to spread to other parts of the body. If the immune system fails to stem the spread, the disease returns to an active state, the patient develops pneumonia, there is damage to bones and kidneys, as well as the meninges (lining of brain and spinal cord). Latent TB - the bacteria are present in the body but inactive. The patient has no symptoms. It is not contagious.
Active TB - the patient is sick, with symptoms. The TB is contagious.
TB is estimated to kill nearly 2 million people worldwide each year. It is prevalent in patients with HIV/AIDS.
Signs and symptoms of TB - the majority of infected individuals have no symptoms (inactive). If symptoms are present, they usually include weight loss (unexplained), fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, coughing (maybe with blood), chest pain, and pain when breathing.
TB Infected Worker Exposes Hundreds
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