TB risk in infants exposed to infected health worker

Around 200 families have been exposed and probably infected with infectious Tuberculosis (TB) after a hospital health worker was diagnosed with the disease. At present the health care worker is off work and is receiving treatment. The hospital said there was no continuing risk to patients and staff.

After the detection the Liverpool Hospital, in Sydney’s southwest, has contacted parents of babies born in its maternity unit or cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit between December last year and March 6. It was found that nearly 187 children passed through the NICU and nine babies were cared for in the birthing unit in that time, the state health department said yesterday. TB screening and preventive medication will be available for all babies who may have been in contact with the worker assured the hospital staff. Parents of the babies and the worker's colleagues will also be offered screening and counselling.

According to Professor Guy Marks from the hospital's chest clinic said the risk of transmission is low, with about 1,200 cases diagnosed in Australia each year. However he added that caution is essential. Professor Marks said, “Fortunately, treatment for tuberculosis is highly effective…It [tuberculosis] affects the lungs. Typically, it is spread through the air by people who have active tuberculosis, coughing.” He explained that the symptoms include a chronic cough, fever, night sweats, coughing up blood and weight loss.

Anyone who fears that they or their children may have been infected should contact the health hotline on 1800 059 647 as soon as possible.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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