Public health officials have announced that an employee who has an active case of tuberculosis may have just infected 706 infants and 43 fellow employees at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, Texas. Holy shit.
Parents of babies who were born at Providence Memorial between September 1, 2013 and August 16, 2014 (that's a lot of babies) were informed of the potential exposure to the airborne disease and were encouraged to have their babies screened (for free) for tuberculosis. The letter read:
"Your child should receive (a) TB skin test as soon as possible in order to determine if he or she has the TB germ," according to the Sept. 18 letter. "A nurse will look at the arm in 2-3 days to read the test. Your child will also need a chest X-ray so that a doctor can check to see if your children's lungs are clear. A doctor will examine your children and answer any questions you may have. If it is needed, medication will be provided to further protect your child."
Not all the infants were from Texas—around 50 of the babies' parents were from New Mexico and apparently there were mothers from Mexico who gave birth at the hospital.
Sierra Providence chief medical officer Dr. Enrique Martinez maintained that the hospital is indeed safe and that officials are currently investigating the source of the tuberculosis that affected the health worker to begin with—apparently the hospital screens their employees annually for diseases including tuberculosis, so the health worker developed it since the screening.
Hopefully if there are any active cases, they are all caught in time before the infection gets very serious.
Image via Getty.