Palm Springs Nurse Tests Positive for Tuberculosis

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- A neonatal nurse at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs tested positive for tuberculosis, and at least 178 people who may have come in contact with her are being asked to get tested for the lung disease, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.

The nurse was diagnosed about three weeks ago after taking the TB test nurses undergo every six months.

"She was asymptomatic, so she was most likely not contagious," said Don Brady of the hospital. "By law we had to contact everyone she came in contact with."

Letters were sent to the parents of babies who might have come in contact with the nurse over the past six months, Brady said.

The Riverside County Department of Public Health is urging everyone notified by the hospital to get tested.

"We are recommending the testing," said Barbara Cole, director of disease control for the county's health department. "We will monitoring the babies and parents."                                        

According to the Center for Disease Control, TB is a bacteria-born illness transmitted through the air when a patient coughs or sneezes. Some people develop latent TB infections that don't cause any serious symptoms. But other times, it progresses to an advanced stage, with sometimes fatal consequences, according to the CDC.

Active TB is often marked by physical weakening, mucus-producing coughs, feverishness and weight loss, health officials said.

Cole said some people are exposed to TB and never get infected.

"We need people to follow through and get the testing done," Cole said.

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