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150 hospital staff and patients in TB scare

MORE than 150 staff and patients at a Cork hospital have to be screened for tuberculosis after a worker was confirmed to have contracted the highly infectious disease.

The Mercy University Hospital staff member has been discharged from the hospital after treatment for TB.

However, all staff, patients and family members who had contact with the individual must now undergo screening.

Respiratory consultant Dr Terence O'Connor said the approach is purely precautionary.

"The risk of any individual becoming infected with TB in this instance is considered to be low but, as a precaution, the investigating team has recommended screening for staff and patients who may have had close contact with the infectious case," he said.

"It will involve a TB skin test and a chest X-ray."

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world's most contagious diseases and is caused by a bacteria which usually targets the lungs.

However, it can also be contracted, although rarely, in the brain, bones and glands. It is usually spread via airborne droplets from coughs or sneezes. It is fully treatable with antibiotics.

However, if left untreated, it can prove harmful and can cause damage to the lungs. The hospital has set up a helpline at (021) 4935205 for anyone concerned about the matter.

Irish Independent