Up to 40 young children were exposed to the potentially deadly infectious illness over the course of March to May by a health care worker that was employed at Gladstone Hospital in Queensland, Australia.
Apparently the risk of contracting the disease is low, but precautions were still taken and parents were contacted immediately. Hospital executive Dr. Nicki Murdock said, “The worker stopped work as soon as the possibility of TB [tuberculosis] was identified.”
Additionally, babies exposed to TB have a greater possibility of being infected with TB due to their underdeveloped immune systems. In fact, children under 16 have a greater chance of developing the disease than adults do. Murdock mentioned that it is important to offer screening up to 3 months after exposure. Medical experts were also called in to offer assistance in helping solve the situation. In terms of testing, Murdock said, “[We use] pin pricks through the skin and then we look to see how the skin reacts to that pin prick two or three days later.”
As mentioned, tuberculosis not necessarily fatal, but only if treated immediately after infection. It is a disease that usually targets the lungs and is spread through a sneeze or cough. The worker was not displaying any clear symptoms of the disease, such as coughing up blood, or even coughing at all. Other symptoms to look for would be fever, night sweats and weight loss. Additionally, the worker did not know where they contracted the disease from – but it was most likely from someone who had “active” TB, or was displaying symptoms.
The disease is thought of as being rare, but it is not completely eradicated – up to 3.5 out of 100,000 people in Australia contract is annually.