Active TB found at Hemet Valley Medical Center prompts testing

R■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
iverside County health officials are working with administrators at Hemet Valley Medical Center and Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside to determine who may have been exposed to tuberculosis after some hospital employees were diagnosed with an active form of the respiratory illness.
While officials have not determined how the individuals contracted the disease, they do not believe the cases are related. The three employees– two at Hemet Valley and one at Parkview –will not be identified, are undergoing treatment and are expected to recover.
Riverside University Health System-Public Health and the hospitals are notifying more than 2,000 staff members and patients who may have been exposed. Those receiving the notification are being urged to be tested for TB, which can be done through their health care provider. Hemet Valley has made special arrangements for free TB testing of individuals seen at its hospital. The dates and times will be included in the notification letters. Those who do not receive a letter are not considered at-risk for TB exposure.
Hemet Valley is sending approximately 900 notifications and Parkview is mailing out 1,200. Those who do not receive a letter are not considered at-risk for TB exposure. Those who test positive will be referred for an X-ray and evaluation for appropriate treatment.
“The risk of transmission is low, but TB can still be a serious illness,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for the county. “If you receive notification you may have been exposed, getting tested promptly will ensure any risk you have is dealt with quickly.”
This is not the first time active TB has been found in Riverside County. In December 2016, a student at Heritage High School in Menifee tested positive for active tuberculosis. In November, a student at Indio High School also tested positive. And, in September, a patient seen at Borrego Health Centro Médico Coachella clinic in Thermal was diagnosed with active TB.
Tuberculosis is a disease spread through the air during prolonged, repeated and close contact with an individual who is infected with active tuberculosis. When left untreated, TB can result in serious complications. TB is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food or drink, or via bed linens or toilet seats.
Symptoms include a productive cough, unexplained weight loss, fever and fatigue. Not everyone infected with the TB bacteria becomes sick. A person with inactive (latent) TB cannot spread it to others.
Individuals concerned about TB can contact their health-care provider or the Public Health Department Disease Control at (951) 358-5107. For additional information about tuberculosis, visit www.rivco-diseasecontrol.org

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