Providence St. Vincent Medical Center caregiver diagnosed with tuberculosis

PORTLAND, Ore. – Providence St. Vincent Medical Center says one of its caregivers has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

The hospital, citing patient-privacy laws, would not disclose what role the caregiver served or what part of the hospital they worked in.

About 75 percent of the tuberculosis cases in Oregon are from people who travel to developing countries, where the disease can be more prevalent.

“It’s people who would have been in direct or close contact with that caregiver for an extended period of time,” said Jennifer Burrows, the Chief Nursing Executive for Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Patients who were exposed to the infected caregiver will be contacted by the hospital.

In the past two years, 139 people have tested positive for tuberculosis, though not everyone who tests positive becomes contagious.

“If they do become ill, it’s a serious illness,” said Dr. Rachel Plotinski, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at St. Vincent. “It can then be spread to others, so we’d like to know when people have been exposed to protect them from that very rare possibility.”

Symptoms of tuberculosis include heavy coughing, particularly coughing up blood.

Some of the infected caregiver’s co-workers have been tested and hospital officials anticipate they’ll have a better idea of how much, if at all, the disease spread. The initial test results are expected to come back in the next couple days.

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