Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has begun the process of testing hundreds of families for tuberculosis after announcing last week an employee who worked in the infant unit tested positive for the bacteria.
No new cases have been reported, but the hospital says tests will continue throughout the week.
Pediatric physician Dr. Kjartan Armann is waiting for the results of a tuberculosis test he gave a patient over the weekend. He says the patient visited a family member in the Mother & Infant Care Center at Valley Medical Center early last month.
"People are very afraid of infectious diseases at this particular point," Armann said Monday.
Armann said he expects the results will be negative, but because the patient has a young baby, he performed the test as a precaution after Valley Medical announced that more than 1,000 people, including about 350 babies, were potentially exposed to TB by an infected nurse between mid-August and mid-November.
"If a baby is exposed to TB in his first year of life, it can develop serious complications like meningitis, sepsis, those kind of things," Armann said.
So far, no TB cases have been linked to this exposure.
The nurse's co-workers say she showed no symptoms and only discovered her infection during an unrelated medical appointment with her doctor.
Officials said, since the nurse was not coughing, they consider her "to be a very low risk for actually spreading TB to most individuals."
Because infants are too young to be tested, the hospital is recommending chest x-rays and a six-month antibiotic treatment for the estimated 350 babies who were exposed.
Hundreds of Newborn Babies Need Antibiotics for Tuberculosis After Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Employee Tests Positive
Santa Clara County is nearly triple the national average when it comes to the number of TB cases. Doctors attribute that to the high immigration rates.