Rancho Mirage, CA
The county health director and Eisenhower Medical Center’s infection prevention specialist announced 500 staff and patients could have been exposed to active tuberculosis.
"We do have additional tests that go on but at this point we have no indication that they’re linked they just, it’s a coincidence at this point the three of them were here at the same time and no, we do not consider this an outbreak," said Barbara Cole, the public health director of the Riverside County Disease Control.
Those exposed were told by mail they should get tested because three patients tested positive for the respiratory illness from January to March of this year.
Symptoms include, persistent cough with mucus or blood, chest pain when you cough, fever and night sweats and weight loss. The disease is spread when people with TB cough, talk or sneeze causing the infected droplets of saliva to be suspended in the air and someone inhales them. The bacteria that causes TB can live in the air for hours.
"We’re designed to have rapid air exchanges so it minimizes how long it does stay in the air in the hospital … when these letters go out it’s going to anyone who was in that waiting room for the 30 minutes or an hour, whatever we determine until that room is considered totally safe to breathe," said Michael Connors, the infection prevention specialist at Eisenhower Medical Center.
A skin test and a chest x-ray will determine if you have TB. Health officials say those exposed to tuberculosis have a five to ten percent chance of getting the disease, but it’s treatable with antibiotics.
"We don’t feel people have to be in a panic but it is a serious disease again stressing we feel it’s low risk but because we can’t say no risk we encourage people to get tested," said Cole.
If you have any questions or concerns about being exposed to the disease call: (951) 358-5107.