160 babies to be tested in TB hospital scare

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160 babies to be tested in TB hospital scare

About 160 newborns who were recently hospitalized at Ewha Womans University Medical Center in Yangcheon District, southwestern Seoul, will be called in for a tuberculosis test after a female nurse there was diagnosed with the infectious disease, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced Monday.

The 32-year-old woman had been working at the neonatal intensive care unit until last Friday, the same day she received her test results for a regular checkup that indicated she had contracted tuberculosis.

She was immediately ordered to stop work and is currently undergoing medical treatment at her home. Authorities said she claimed to not have felt any symptoms, such as coughing.

Alongside the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Yangcheon District’s public health center, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has installed a situation room at the hospital in order to check whether any of the 160 babies who were hospitalized between April 15 and last Friday have been infected by the nurse.

The three-month period was based on the communicable period of tuberculosis. The hospital said Monday it started calling each parent to provide further instructions. Some 50 medical personnel at the hospital will also be called in for the test. Of the 37 employees who have been checked so far, nobody tested positive.

According to the World Health Organization, the infectious bacterial disease, which most commonly affects the lungs, is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease. Symptoms include coughing, chest pains, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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