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More Than 700 Babies Potentially Exposed to Tuberculosis in Texas Hospital

At least 700 infants may have been exposed to tuberculosis in the nursery area of a Texas hospital. The babies were put at risk of catching the contagious disease by a member of staff who was infected, health officials said.

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Reuters/Luke MacGregor

Reuters/Luke MacGregor

Forty hospital employees were also put at risk of catching the disease. City Department of Public Health officials told AP that the exposure happened between September 2013 and August 2014 at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso.

The bacteria that causes TB can lie undetected for months or years before it eventually causes a breakout of the illness. It is contracted through germs spread by the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

“This is an incredibly large exposure investigation, and it involves infants, so it is particularly sensitive,” Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said on Friday.“Babies are more likely than older children and adults to develop life-threatening forms of TB.”

Employment and medical records had to be examined to determine all of those who were put at risk.

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