A Gwinnett Medical Center employee has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and may have exposed more than 100 patients to the disease, hospital officials said Tuesday.
The employee has been put into isolated care and is getting treatment, said Alan Bier, chief medical officer of the Gwinnett Medical Center.
The hospital has declined to release details of where the employee worked within the facility, but identified 133 patients who were in contact with the worker while the employee may have been contagious.
The hospital sent letters Friday urging those patients to get tuberculosis skin tests, Bier said. A skin test is the most common way to determine whether a patient has TB.
The infected employee displayed symptoms of the disease — which include coughing, fever, fatigue, weight loss and chest pain — and tested positive for TB from a skin test in mid-May, Bier said. The worker’s current condition was unknown as of Tuesday morning.
The risk of having contracted tuberculosis from the employee is low, Bier said.
Tuberculosis is spread through the air when someone who is infected with TB coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, said Dr. Rose-Marie Sales. The germs can pass through the air into another person’s lungs and infect them. Only if a person is showing signs of having tuberculosis can he or she spread the tuberculosis germs to others, Sales said.
People can carry tuberculosis germs in their bodies but not show signs of being sick. These people cannot spread the disease to others, but can develop tuberculosis symptoms over time and then spread the disease to others, Bier said.