MultiCare Auburn Medical Center this week will notify 27 adults, the pediatricians and families of 26 infants who were treated in the Family Birth Center and 107 employees who worked there between April 22 and Sept. 30 that they were exposed to tuberculosis.
Those on the list will receive letters sharing the situation with a recommendation they be tested, the hospital said in a press release Wednesday morning. As the hospital noted, however, the likelihood of transmission is low because TB is not easily spread and requires prolonged exposure.
The hospital will likewise alert the babies’ pediatricians and recommend that their parents speak to their child’s doctor to discuss the best next steps for monitoring for symptoms.
The notification follows the confirmation that an employee at the hospital tested positive for the disease. Public Health – Seattle & King County conducted a thorough investigation and determined the period of potential exposure.
“For MultiCare, there is no higher priority that the safety of our patients and employees,” said Dr. Arun Mathews, chief medical officer at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. “This situation is troubling to us, but we are committed to ensuring TB testing and care for those who need it. “
MultiCare is providing all 53 patients with TB testing free of charge and will help with the next steps, which may include follow-up testing and treatment. Any visitors who spent more than eight hours with these patients in the Birth Center are also welcome to be tested.
The hospital will not recommend testing for individuals who had brief exposure to this employee in the five-month window because it does not believe to be at risk.
Tuberculosis is caused by an airborne bacterium that typically impacts the lungs. Not everyone who is infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. TB is not transmitted by touching tables and other objects that an infected person touched.
Tuberculosis is often treatable through medication. Medical providers can use a skin or blood test to determine if the infection is present. In 2018, 93 new cases of TB were reported in King County, for an incidence of 4.2 cases per 100,000.