In a follow-up to the events in El Paso, TX, where hundreds of newborns may have been exposed to tuberculosis after a health care worker was confirmed as an active TB case, city health officials report five babies have tested positive for Tuberculosis infection.

El Paso County, Texas Image/David Benbennick
El Paso County, Texas
Image/David Benbennick

Health authorities do emphasize these results are based on skin testing; all X-rays were negative. They are not considered to have active TB disease.

In addition, four of these babies received a BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine that may be generating false positives.

The list of children considered possibly exposed has been increased by 96. This includes the babies that were transitioned (born before the healthcare worker’s shift but were transitioned out of the nursery during the worker’s shift).The total number of parents receiving a letter and or telephone call to come in for a screening will be 858 on Monday, and that number can fluctuate as the investigation continues, as evidence dictates expansion.

This situation was first reported a little over a week ago when the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) determined that more than 700 patients and more than 40 employees were exposed to a hospital employee with an active case of Tuberculosis (TB) in the post-partum and newborn nursery area of Providence Memorial Hospital (PMH). This exposure took place between September 2013 and August 2014.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page