GMH employee with active TB exposes disease to 328 infants

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“We got confirmation that one of our staff who was working in the nursery area had active Tuberculosis,” acknowledged GMH CEO Peter John Camacho.

Guam – The Guam Memorial Hospital is asking all parents of newborns who recently visited their facilities to prepare for some unfortunate news.

“We got confirmation that one of our staff who was working in the nursery area had Active Tuberculosis,” acknowledged GMH CEO Peter John Camacho.

According to Camacho, the staffer in question unknowingly carried active TB and potentially exposed the infectious disease to over 300 newborns at the hospital. But it’s not just the infants at risk.

“We are also screening the employees as well in that area so that we can make sure everybody is going to be accounted for,” Camcho said.

To be clear, just because your infant may have been exposed does not necessarily mean that they are immediately infected.

“You have to be careful about making the distinction with making a case and a contact,” said Public Health Director James Gillan. “The individual in this case is the one who worked in the nursery. Now, this was also a person who was not symptomatic showing; there were no indications that they had tuberculosis.”

In fact, Gillan says the individual was not even aware of their condition until an executive checkup overseas revealed something was off.

And to make matters worse, Gillan says TB screenings are not that reliable to begin with.

“The thing that’s problematic about TB is that you can have Latent TB. I could probably test positive for TB just because I’m around individuals who are positive, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to have active TB…The thing about these mass screenings that occur is that the tool itself — the PPD, can sometimes give you a false negative,” he said.

But for the parents who are wondering what is being done in this particular instance, Camacho says they have a task force comprised of TB specialists and skilled physicians who will work to get all the affected individuals screened.

“It’s going to be expensive, but these babies are our future so we will take care of them,” Camacho said.