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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 015-07
Thursday, March 15, 2007

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR MEDIA
(212) 788-5290
(212)788-3058 (After Hours)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)

St. Barnabas Hospital
(212) 608-0333
Fred Winters (fred@arztcomm.com)


HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND ST. BARNABAS HOSPITAL NOTIFY PATIENTS OF POTENTIAL TUBERCULOSIS EXPOSURE

Mothers, Babies, Patients, and Staff who Were in the Maternity, Neonatal, or Psychiatric Units at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx from November 1, 2006 – January 24, 2007 May Have Been Exposed and Should be Screened Immediately
Strain is Drug-Sensitive and Treatable


NEW YORK CITY – March 15, 2007 – The New York City Health Department is investigating a case of drug-sensitive tuberculosis (TB) in a health care worker who works at St.Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. The health care worker worked in the postpartum, well-baby nursery, neonatal intensive care and psychiatric units. On January 30, 2007, she was diagnosed with active TB and began treatment the same day. She has not been working at the facility since January 24, 2007. Because she was working at the hospital before she was diagnosed, she may have exposed others to TB.

The Health Department was notified about this case in early February and, working closely with the hospital, has identified approximately 700 people who were potentially exposed, 532 of whom are patients, including 238 infants. The Health Department and the hospital have sent letters and made phone calls to persons who may have been exposed, alerting them to the situation, and asking them to come in for a free evaluation; however only a small number of people have come in for screening. Those who were exposed should be screened immediately to determine if they should get TB treatment.

Any patients or staff members who were in the following wards at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx between November 1, 2006 and January 24, 2007 should call St. Barnabas Hospital at (718) 960-3624 to find out if they were potentially exposed to TB:

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Well-baby nursery, where newborns typically receive care
  • Maternity Ward (including mothers and expecting mothers),
  • Psychiatric Ward
  • Patients or staff who don’t know which wards they were in should contact the hospital at (718) 960-3624 , or call 3-1-1 to find out if they were exposed and where and how to be evaluated.

"Because their immune systems are not fully developed, newborns who are exposed to TB are at high risk of developing active TB," said Dr. Sonal Munsiff, Assistant Commissioner for TB Control. "TB is preventable and curable, but it is critical that anyone who was seen in the maternity, NICU, baby nursery or psychiatric wards between November 1, 2006 and January 24, 2007 find out if they were exposed and get screened for TB and begin treatment if necessary."

"Patients should go to St. Barnabas Hospital to get free screening and treatment. They can also go to their doctor for screening or come to any Health Department TB Chest Center." Dr.Munsiff said.

Information about Tuberculosis (TB)

A person infected with TB may go on to develop tuberculosis disease unless he or she receives treatment to prevent active disease. Infants and persons who are HIV-infected have a very high risk of developing tuberculosis if infected with the tuberculosis germ and should receive preventive treatment.

Screening for tuberculosis involves a Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST) and/or a chest X-ray, depending on the patient and on results. Infants should have both, and should be treated for latent tuberculosis infection if active tuberculosis disease is ruled out.

The Health Department provides free screening and treatment for tuberculosis. To find a TB chest center, call 3-1-1 or visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/tb/tbcc.shtml. For more information about TB, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/tb/tb-facts.shtml.

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