Dozens of cancer patients in Seattle have been told they might have made contact with a healthcare worker infected with tuberculosis.
The worker was an employee at the University of Washington Medical Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and officials say the employee had contact with patients since February.
As a precaution, the medical organizations have offered free tuberculosis testing to 140 cancer patients and their families. But they believe it is unlikely tuberculosis was transmitted to patients. That's because TB is contagious, but not as easily spread as the flu or common cold.
Dr. Tim Dellit from UW Medicine said at a press conference that they have already tested co-workers of the employee.
Dellit: "And all of those healthcare workers have tested negative within our system, so at this time we have no evidence of transmission within the health care setting, and I think that is very reassuring."
The medical center also tested close personal contacts. One of them has tested positive for a non-active form of TB.
The infected employee was put on leave immediately after diagnosis. Dellit says the same employee was exposed to tuberculosis five years ago and has had yearly evaluations since.
An active TB infection can cause symptoms such as chest pain, a bad cough and coughing up blood.