Thanks to André Picard, the superb health reporter at The Globe and Mail, for tweeting the link to this report in the Toronto Star: 87 infants potentially exposed to tuberculosis at Scarborough Hospital. Excerpt:
Jason Sangster was born eight weeks early, at 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and spent the first weeks of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit, his tiny lungs struggling to breathe.
The Scarborough Hospital released him on July 5. But his parents’ relief was shattered when public health called four weeks later.
Jason is one of 87 babies potentially exposed to tuberculosis at the hospital, after a nurse tested positive for the contagious disease.
Babies who stayed in the Scarborough General campus’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) between April 1 and July 18 must now be tested — and as a precaution, treated — for the bacterial infection.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Jason’s dad, Matthew Sangster, said after he took his son in for tests. “It’s a child with respiratory problems right from the get-go. I mean, how can that happen?”
It’s unclear how the nurse caught TB, a disease that can lie dormant for years, but she “absolutely followed the protocols of the hospital,” said the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, Dr. Peter Azzopardi.
The nurse reported her symptoms to doctors as soon as she felt ill (the hospital says privacy prevents it from saying when), but a preliminary TB test did not show the disease.
Her symptoms were so minimal she was allowed to continue work in the NICU, Azzopardi said.
A secondary test that took about four weeks to process confirmed the TB infection on July 18. The nurse immediately stopped work, to be treated.
“This serves as a reminder to all of us that these types of infections are in our community. We have to be vigilant for symptoms and take them seriously,” Azzopardi said.