Patient who tested positive for TB died at Omaha hospital

The Three Rivers Public Health Department is investigating a case of tuberculosis. 

A patient was treated at Fremont Health and transferred to Nebraska Medicine on October 29th. That patient died at Nebraska Medicine. 

The agency says the patient tested positive for TB. The agency says it immediately started a plan to address post-exposure assessment, and possible treatment for any people exposed to this patient. 

In a statement in the news release, Three Rivers Public Health Department Executive Director Terra Uhing said, "We’re actively investigating this case of TB and we’re interviewing family and community members to identify any setting where other individuals might have been exposed to this patient." She said, "Safety is our number one priority and we’re taking all the necessary steps to make sure people identified at risk for exposure are evaluated.”

Three Rivers Public Health Department staff are available to answer questions and can be reached at 402-727-5396.

The health department provided the below information about TB: 

Tuberculosis is an infection of the lungs which results in a cough and sputum production. Persons exposed to and infected with tuberculosis generally have a prolonged incubation period. Patients who get infected most often take weeks to months to develop symptoms. The risk of infection is correlated with close proximity in a confined space for a prolonged period of time with a person whose sputum is positive for tuberculosis. The shorter the time of exposure and the greater the distance from the infected person lessens the risk of transmission.

While incidents such as this have been dramatically reduced in frequency over the past few decades through aggressive tuberculosis control programs based on screening tests and excellent antibiotic coverage, the public health system has extensive experience with and established protocols for post-exposure assessment, testing and treatment.

This approach is based on identifying any person who was exposed to the infected patient, followed by a tuberculosis screening test. Public health recommends the screening test to individuals who are believed to have an exposure to this patient. Individuals whose initial screening test is positive need to be evaluated by a physician and will most likely be placed on an antibiotic. If the initial screening test is negative, a second test is needed six weeks later to see if a “conversion” from negative to positive has occurred. Those whose screening test has converted from negative to positive need to be evaluated by a physician and will most likely be placed on an antibiotic.

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