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Ohio's Hospital Neonatal Unit Potentially Exposed To Tuberculosis Bacteria

By Duna Bil , Jan 14, 2017 01:42 AM EST
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NEW YORK- NOVEMBER 27: A doctor examines the x-rays of a tuberculosis (TB) patient at a TB clinic Novmeber 27, 2002 in Brooklyn, New York. Healthcare workers around the country oversee patients in a program called Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) that ensures carriers of the tuberculosis bacteria take their medication. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease of the lungs that is spread through the air and kills around 2 million people annually, mainly in third world countries. It is relatively easy and affordable to treat, with a six-month series of drugs costing around 10 dollars. While the number of TB cases in the United States has dropped in recent years, the disease is still particularly strong among the foreign-born, the homeless and impoverished contributing to the deaths of thousands of Americans yearly. As of 2000, over 16,000 Americans have contracted tuberculosis. (Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A patient recently diagnosed with tuberculosis reportedly visited Ohio's Hospital Neonatal Unit, potentially exposing infants, staff, and other visitors to the bacteria. Before being diagnosed, the patient had been visiting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Summa Akron Hospital from November to December. Summit County Public Health confirmed the tuberculosis case and have urged visitors and staff present at the time to get themselves tested for the disease.

Officials stated that the patient was not diagnosed until January 3.Over 50 people are estimated to have been exposed to the patient during the whole duration of his visit in the NICU. Although the risk is low, health officials are worried about the potential harm the bacteria could do to the infants.

Similar stories of infections have been reported this week but this one is unusually alarming as it involves infants.Ohio's Hospital Neonatal Unit pediatrician, Dr. John Bower, says that even thought the risk of spread of the infection is low, infants can still be affected due to their underdeveloped immune system. He also adds that tuberculosis can be more serious in young children, so complete assessment is their priority The neonates are also set to begin protective antibiotic administration after evaluation, the Fox News reports.

The disease takes 10 to 12 weeks to incubate inside the body and can only be transmitted through prolonged contact when the infected person laughs, coughs, or sings. Casual contact does not spread the disease that's why health officials do not ask visitors in other hospital areas to get tested. Only those who were constantly present at the time the infected patient visited the NICU were aggressively urged to get the test, the Cleveland says.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that typically attacks the lungs but can also infect the kidneys and bones. Not everyone affected by it shows symptoms of coughing, pain in chest, blood in phlegm, and chills at night among other things. That's why it's important to have everyone at the Ohio's Hospital Neonatal Unit present at the time to get tested and immediately treated.

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