Young Gladstone children may have been exposed to TB

GLADSTONE Hospital staff are contacting parents of about 35 babies and under-two-year-olds who may have been exposed to a health worker with tuberculosis between the end of March and the beginning of May this year.

Hospital executive director Dr Nicki Murdock said the risk of infection was extremely low, but the hospital was erring on the side of caution in keeping parents informed.

The infection was identified when the health worker underwent some routine tests.

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"The worker stopped work as soon as the possibility of TB was identified," Dr Murdock said.

Stressing that the risk of infection was very low, Dr Murdock said there was no need for alarm.

"It's something that we don't want people to panic about - the risk is very low," she said.

"If one of my children had been potentially exposed, it would not be something that I would be concerned about."  

"We have worked with a TB expert advisory group around the management of this issue.

"The reason why we offer testing for babies and young children is that they have underdeveloped immune systems and it is wise to offer screening for TB three months after potential exposure."

She said babies and children were unlikely to develop any illness within three months of exposure, and tests were most accurate after the three-month point.

Screening comprises a pin prick test which is reviewed two or three days later to read how the skin has reacted.

Dr Murdock said a similar incident had occurred in Brisbane a few years ago and no babies or children were found to have been infected after screening tests had been completed.

Dr Murdock said people found to have TB needed to be treated - a process that takes six months.

"It can be a serious disease if it is not diagnosed and treated," she said.


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