A hospital in California is now working overtime to track down over 350 newborn babies and their mothers as they may possibly have been exposed to tuberculosis.
This comes on the heels of an announcement from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose that a nurse had fallen ill to tuberculosis. The nurse is assigned to the hospital’s Mother and Infant Care center, and may have come in contact with at least 350 infants while ill. Still, hospital representatives said that not all babies who were born during that time may have been exposed to that nurse.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center did not categorically refer to the current situation as an emergency, but stressed the importance of treating the 350 babies, as they may have been exposed to a nurse suffering from active tuberculosis. The babies, and possibly their mothers, had contact with the nurse in question between mid-August and mid-November of this year. Tuberculosis is usually spread via coughing and sneezing.
“Infants have an immature immune system,” explained the hospital’s Dr. Stephen Harris. “They don’t necessarily localize the infection to their lungs. When a baby gets tuberculosis it can unfortunately travel into the blood stream and throughout the body.” Santa Clara County health officer Sara Cody added that this is a situation that is being taken seriously, as the babies “do need to be carefully evaluated and followed.”
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s chair of Pediatrics has recommended that the babies receive a daily antibiotic treatment for a six-to-nine month time frame. The hospital is in the process of sending letters to families of potentially affected babies, and has set up a hotline for any questions regarding the issue.