In a follow-up to a recent report, The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has received a list of approximately 45 more babies who have been exposed to TB at Providence Memorial Hospital. The exposure was in a nursery unit via a healthcare worker who was confirmed as an active TB case. As with any TB investigation the list of exposures/possible exposures can fluctuate over time. These parents are receiving the same certified mail and/or telephone notification as the 706 who were on the original list. They are also being asked to call 2-1-1 or 1-877-541-7905 in order to have their child screened.
As of Monday, September 22, 2014 more than 350 appointments were made for screenings. Of those appointments, 40 were for Monday, and despite the treacherous weather conditions in some parts of town, 38 of these appointments were kept. Because of the ease of flow experienced thus far, the Department is increasing the number of appointments being scheduled per day. A total of 72 appointments are now being scheduled daily. This is expected to continue for the next few weeks. Parents and other family members are not being tested because they are not considered exposed. It is important to note that a baby or infant is not considered contagious even if they test positive for active TB.
Data collected from the hospital indicates that of the now 750+ exposures, 671 were listed as residents of Texas; 54 of New Mexico; 26 of Mexico; and one from Arizona. Screening for New Mexico residents is being handled by the New Mexico Department of Public Health and information is available by calling 505-827-0006.
There are two TB related conditions: active infectious TB disease and non-contagious TB infection. Active infectious TB disease is contagious and may be transmitted to others when someone with an active case coughs or sneezes, releasing droplets into the air. However, active infectious TB is not highly contagious and generally requires close contact over an extended period of time in order to be spread. Someone with non-contagious TB infection cannot spread germs to others, and therefore, are not contagious.