Michigan health officials are working to identify the health status of up to 560 patients and staff at four metro Detroit area medical centers who were exposed to a health care worker who was ill with tuberculosis (TB).
The worker came into contact with the patients between Aug. 1 and Dec. 17 at four health care facilities, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. They included Detroit Medical Center, 450 possible exposures; Henry Ford Hospital, 23; St. John Hospital and Medical Center, 10; and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, 77.
“The worker is currently receiving treatment and is not working at this time,” the health department said in a press release. “Patients and staff that may have been exposed have already been notified and encouraged to obtain testing. Those who have not received a notification letter identifying them as someone who has been in close contact with the identified individual, but still have concerns, may contact the facilities directly.
“The likelihood of additional employees being infected is very low as they are required to have an annual TB test as part of the hospitals’ patient/employee safety measures.”
TB is a treatable bacterial disease that can be serious and is spread through the air from one person to another. There are two forms of TB: TB infection in which people have the TB bacteria in their bodies but are not sick, and TB disease, in which the bacteria multiply and cause people to become sick.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,945 new cases of TB disease in the United States, of which 149 cases were reported from Michigan.
According to the health department, not everyone who is exposed to TB will be infected, and many people who have TB infection never develop TB disease. There are two types of test for TB infection, a skin test or a blood test. Both tests are simple, will be administered by the respective hospital at no cost to the patient, and results are available within a few days.
The affected health care facilities can be reached at the following phone numbers: Detroit Medical Center (888) 362-2500; Henry Ford Hospital, (313) 874-7733; St. John Hospital and Medical Center (313) 343-3311 and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, (888) 362-2500.