Officials Say Few People Ever Exposed To TB Become Infected

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan hospital has been notifying former maternity ward patients that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis after an employee tested positive for the disease.

All patients and staff members who may have been exposed to the disease have been contacted, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital said in a statement. Hospital officials said they immediately contacted the city’s health department to develop a plan to contact all patients that may have been exposed.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs.

“We understand that patients may have concerns, and we want to assure everyone that we are taking swift and comprehensive steps to address the situation,” the statement said. “If you were recently a patient at Roosevelt Hospital and have not been notified, then you were not in contact with the infected staff member.”

St. Luke’s-Roosevelt said the employee had previously been tested for TB, and that the person’s health survey suggested no problems.

The hospital stresses that few people exposed to the disease actually become infected.

“Infection generally occurs after continuous exposure over several hours,” the hospital said.

“It’s really not that dangerous because we have adequate treatment for it,” Dr. Tony Abed, a pulmonologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer.

Abed said the disease is spread through cough droplets, and though it is treatable, it can be dangerous with it’s a drug-resistant strain.

“It depends on the load of the patient who has tuberculosis to begin with and how close you are to that person,” he said.

According to the New York City Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, in 2012, the number of confirmed TB cases in the city dropped to 651 — the lowest number since the disease became reportable in 1897.

The hospital has provided patients with options and locations for evaluation and testing.

All testing and follow-up procedures not covered by insurance will be reimbursed by the hospital.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

Watch & Listen LIVE