LAS VEGAS: Health officials urged tuberculosis testing for hundreds of babies, family members and staff who were at a Las Vegas neonatal intensive care unit this summer, saying they want to take extra precautions after the death of a mother and her twin babies and the infection of more than 26 people.
Authorities with the Southern Nevada Health District said Tuesday that they’re working to contact parents of about 140 babies who were at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit between mid-May and mid-August, and have set up a temporary clinic to test them.
Tests of hospital staff and friends and family of the mother have revealed 26 tuberculosis infections, although most of those cases are latent — meaning patients don’t show symptoms and aren’t contagious. All 26 are being treated, according to health district spokeswoman Stephanie Bethel.
It’s unlikely that the babies who may have been exposed will come down with the disease, according to Dr. Joe Iser, the health district’s chief medical officer, but officials want to do widespread testing “through an abundance of caution.”
“It’s safer to expand the investigation,” Iser said.
Officials think the woman contracted tuberculosis through an unpasteurized dairy product from Latin America.
Families who had babies in the NICU were informed of the investigation in August, and this week the health district urged them to get tested.
The illness is spread through the air when a sick person coughs, sneezes or speaks. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, fever and fatigue.