McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond fears hundreds of patients and staff were exposed to tuberculosis after possibly coming into contact with an infected patient.
According to a hospital spokeswoman, a veteran was hospitalized there in April. After he was discharged, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
The hospital isn't sure if the man had the disease while in their facility but says it is not taking any chances. It plans to send close to 500 letters to patients and staff who may have been in the hospital and come into contact with the infected patient during his stay.
"The McGuire VA Medical Center is working with local public health officials for surveillance of the case," said hospital spokeswoman Darlene Edwards in an email. "Additionally, McGuire VA Medical Center's Infection Control office has notified employees and is working to notify other patients who may have been exposed. Arrangements for the testing of the staff and patients who may have been exposed are being made."
The Richmond Health Department is assisting in the investigation. It says, tuberculosis isn't entirely uncommon. In the city alone, the department investigates anywhere from 10-20 cases of the disease each year.
"Every time we get an active case we do a very expansive case contact investigation to make sure that we test any potentially exposed individuals," said Dr. Danny Avula, Deputy Director of the Richmond Health Department.
Dr. Avula says, it isn't easy to contract tuberculosis. However, it is contagious so the department and the hospital are trying to be proactive.
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