At least 28 positive cases of tuberculosis were linked to exposure within a neonatal intensive care unit at a Las Vegas hospital, health officials said Tuesday.
A day after the Southern Nevada Health District confirmed an investigation of the disease at Summerlin Hospital, the district said 26 people tested positive for latent infections of tuberculosis, while two more tested positive for active infections.
Latent infections were defined as patients who are not currently sick or contagious. Active infection require patients to be isolated until they are no longer contagious.
Officials said all 28 patients are being treated for the illness.
FOX5 was first to report the investigation in August at Summerlin Hospital.
In a report released by SNHD on Tuesday, investigators said the disease may have stemmed from an expectant mother who had been ill before she was admitted, and prematurely gave birth to twins at Summerlin Hospital in May.
The report said the mother later died at a southern California hospital. Officials then later determined she died from TB meningitis. One of the twins died in June while the other was being treated in the neonatal ICU at Summerlin Hospital, the report said.
The hospital learned the surviving infant, Abigail Marie White, was born from the infected mother and was then placed in isolation. The SNHD report showed the child also tested positive for tuberculosis. That infant died in August.
Officials said the two active cases of TB involve a family member of the original patient and a hospital employee. Those two, as well as the others who were exposed, are expected to survive, officials said.
Officials said some hospital staff were exposed to the illness, but other patients in the NICU did not have close contact with the infected. However, officials at the hospital said Level III NICU patients hospitalized between May 11 and Aug. 8 may have been exposed. They said parents of babies in the NICU at the time were informed in August of an investigation into the exposure.
According to physicians, tuberculosis germs spread in the air when a person with the active disease of the lungs or throat talks, coughs or sneezes. They noted the disease is most likely to spread to people the infected person spends time with every day. Tuberculosis is not spread through contact of objects or of the person with the disease, SNHD said.
The hospital said it was offering free chest x-rays to children who need additional testing.
Officials recommended testing for those babies and parents who may be affected. The health district said it is setting up a private clinic to test those people.
For more information on the clinics or tuberculosis, call 702-759-4636 or visit SNHD.info.
Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.