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Kaiser Permanente officials seek third-floor patients for TB skin tests
By Dorsey Griffith -- Bee Medical Writer
Published 4:05 p.m. PST Friday, March 26, 2004
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Kaiser Permanente Medical Center South Sacramento is tracking down 1,300 patients who may have had contact with a nurse recently diagnosed with tuberculosis.
The patients would have been treated on the third floor of the medical center at some point in the past six months. They are being asked to get TB skin tests, said Dr. Anvar Velji, the hospital's infectious diseases chief.
“We are really casting a very wide net,” he said. “A lot of these people may not have even come into contact with this particular nurse, but we are being extremely cautious.”
About 175 Kaiser staff members also are being tested for TB, as are people who spent four or more hours visiting someone on the third floor of the hospital within the past six months.
“They are doing everything that needs to be done,” said Dr. Glennah Trochet, Sacramento County health officer, who has been working closely with Kaiser on the case. “This is not unusual or extraordinary.”
Since Monday, Velji said, 760 former patients have been contacted and more than 450 people have had the test. Those under age 40 and those who have previously had a TB test are being asked to be re-tested within three months.
Those 40 and older who have never had a TB skin test will have a second test within one week. The secondary testing is being done to eliminate the possibility of a false-positive result.
While some of the patients have tested positive, Velji said it is too early to determine whether the positive results are directly related to the case of the Kaiser nurse.
A positive skin test means that a person is infected with the bacteria that causes the disease, but does not mean the person has tuberculosis. Only 10 to 15 percent of people infected with the bacteria that causes TB will ever become ill with the disease, which primarily affects the lungs.
“I will be very surprised if we have anyone with active TB as a result of this exposure,” Trochet said.
For more details, see Saturday's Bee.