Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gwinnett Medical Center: Warns of Tuberculosis Exposure June 18, 2013

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More than 100 patients at Gwinnett Medical Center are being urged to get screened for tuberculosis after potentially being exposed to a hospital employee with an active case of the disease.
Officials at the Lawrenceville hospital said Tuesday that 133 patients were certain or likely to have had contact with the employee from Feb. 1 through May 10.
The patients have been sent letters urging them to contact the county health department to have a free skin test to determine whether they are at risk of developing TB.
“We want to emphasize that the risk of contracting TB from casual exposure is low, but it is important to do everything possible to rule out the possibility that any individual may have had a significant exposure,” Dr. Alan Bier, Gwinnett Medical Center’s chief medical officer, told a news conference at the hospital.
From the Georgia DPH:

Tuberculosis Section (TB)

Mission & Vision

The mission of the Georgia Tuberculosis (TB) Section is to control transmission, prevent illness and ensure treatment of disease due to tuberculosis. This is accomplished by the following:
  1. Identifying and treating persons who have active TB disease,
  2. Finding, screening and treating contacts, and
  3. Screening high-risk populations.
The TB Program has the legal responsibility for all TB clients in Georgia regardless of who provides the direct services. TB services are available to all who fall within the service criteria without regard to the client's ability to pay.

TB is a reportable disease in Georgia. All Georgia physicians, laboratories and other health care providers are required by law to immediately report clinical and laboratory confirmed TB cases under their care to Georgia public health authorities. TB cases may be directly reported to a County Health Department, a District Health Office, or to the state TB Program and TB Epidemiology Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which is responsible for the systematic collection of all reported TB cases in the state. Immediate reporting of TB cases enables appropriate public health follow-up of patients, including administration of directly observed therapy, monitoring TB treatment until completion, evaluating and screening contacts exposed to a TB case, and outbreak investigation and control.  TB cases in Georgia can be reported electronically through the State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SendSS), a secure web-based surveillance software developed by DPH, or by calling, mailing or faxing a report to public health authorities. Hospital infection control preventionists as well as public health nurses, outreach staff, epidemiologists, and communicable disease specialists involved in disease surveillance are encouraged to report TB through SendSS and register to become a SendSS user by logging into the system’s Web site at: https://sendss.state.ga.us then selecting TB from the list of reportable diseases.

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