SAN FRANCISCO -- Eight infants were exposed to tuberculosis at the neonatal intensive care unit of a Sacramento hospital, but health officials said Tuesday it's unlikely the babies will contract the disease.
The babies were doing well and weren't exhibiting any symptoms of tuberculosis but will receive antibiotic treatment as a precaution, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said.
In addition, doctors will conduct follow-up tests in six months to see if the children are infected.
The infants in the unit included babies born prematurely with breathing problems.
Kasirye said the babies were exposed when someone visited the neonatal facility of Methodist Hospital of Sacramento from Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.
The visitor later felt ill and went to the hospital emergency room, where a TB test was positive. The person is isolated and receiving treatment.
Kasirye said the hospital is not at fault for the exposures because the person showed no signs of tuberculosis while visiting.
"There is no way they could have anticipated this," she said.
The infants were likely not infected because they were in a large room and the visitor was in early stages of the disease, Kasirye said. All of the parents have been notified.
Many people exposed to tuberculosis never become infected with the disease that can cause bad coughs, chest pain and coughing up blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A similar incident happened in the spring when an infected Solano County resident visited Sacramento's Sutter Memorial Hospital and NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield. Officials believed 26 babies were exposed to tuberculosis as a result.
The person had a valid reason to be there and had not been diagnosed at the time, officials said.
None of the infants exposed at Sutter Memorial have shown signs of infection, and some are off treatment because tests showed no evidence of TB, health officials said.
Dr. Michael Stacey, chief medical officer in Solano County, said the children exposed at NorthBay Medical Center are most likely not infected and will be tested next month.
"There is no indication that there is any connection," Kasirye said about the most recent exposure and those in the spring. "It's just a reminder that we still have TB in the community."
Tuberculosis is a serious, treatable and slow-growing bacterial lung disease that is transmitted through microscopic droplets from coughing, sneezing, talking or singing.
Sometimes the disease is drug resistant, but there's no evidence of that in the most recent case, Kasirye said.