By Maggie Fox. A female patient with an extremely hard-to-treat form of tuberculosis is being treated at the National Institutes of Health outside Washington D.C., and federal and state officials are now tracking down hundreds of people who may have been in contact with her.
The woman traveled to at least three states before she sought treatment from a U.S. doctor. While TB is not easily caught by casual contact, extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB is so dangerous that health officials will have to make a concerted effort to warn anyone who may be at risk.
“The patient is staying in an isolation room in the NIH Clinical Center specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections, including XDR-TB. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is providing care and treatment for the patient in connection with an existing NIH clinical protocol for treating TB, including XDR forms. NIAID has treated other XDR-TB patients in the past under this protocol,” the NIH said.
These special isolation rooms usually control air flow to prevent germs from escaping into the rest of the hospital or outside.
The patient, who isn’t being identified in any way, may face months or even years of treatment. Ordinary TB is hard to treat and requires, at a minimum, weeks of antibiotics. XDR-TB resists the effects of almost all the known TB drugs. Sometimes patients have to have pockets of infection surgically removed. (Read more from “Patient With Extreme Form of Tuberculosis Sent to National Institutes of Health” HERE)
Tuberculosis Outbreak Brewing in Texas
By Merrill Hope. Initially, officials called it an isolated incident of tuberculosis (TB) in East Texas. One case of the contagious bacterial lung infection originated at a local community college. It since has multiplied into four new cases, the direct result of contact with “patient zero” and now, 60 more people are being screened as a precaution.
On May 29, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) announced that the four new cases were being treated after individuals came into contact with patient zero, who was said to be a student at Kilgore College in Gregg County, by the Kilgore News Herald.
Officials also advised that an additional 60 people were being screened for TB who had possible contact with one of the infected individuals. Earlier in the month, the TDSHS began investigating that first TB case on campus.
“Many contacts who are currently being evaluated for TB will need to be re-evaluated in 8-10 weeks, depending on the last date of contact with the index (first) case,” said TDSHS spokeswoman Christine Mann, according to KTLV-TV.
Mann stated that if a contact is diagnosed with active TB disease, they will begin treatment immediately. However, if a contact is diagnosed with latent TB infection, which is not contagious, they will be offered treatment depending on their medical history and other risk factors. (Read more from this story HERE)