A cluster of tuberculosis cases has been identified at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
Five cases of TB have been discovered during whole genome sequencing, the hospital revealed in a statement.
Four of the cases overlapped at the hospital, in a specific timeframe and area within St Vincent’s.
All of the cases are the same strain and genetically identical.
“It is likely that one person, diagnosed at St Vincent’s hospital, has transmitted the infection to two other patients and one staff member while in hospital,” they said in a statement.
“The individual was not known to have TB at the time they were potentially infectious.”
The hospital said all of those involved had been informed of the infection as well as how the transmission happened.
The hospital is working with NSW Health and St Vincent’s TB clinical experts to “identify this very targeted group of staff, patients and members of the public who may have been exposed”.
Dr Anthony Byrne, St Vincent’s Respiratory Physician and TB specialist, said the risk of infection to those they have identified is low.
They are, however, recommending TB screening which involves a one-off blood test to those people.
“Depending on their circumstances and the results, they may also be recommended to have a chest x-ray and medical review,” he said.
“Preventative therapy may also be offered.
“It’s also important to note that if infection with TB does occur, most people (90%) will never get sick and cannot infect other people.”
The hospital has set up two enhanced TB systems so they can rapidly test those people identified.
The first will conduct the initial screening and assessment.
The second will allow “rapid medical review” of those who are deemed to be at “higher risk of exposure”.
“The Hospital has set up a TB hot-line 1800 943 123 to further support those who have been contacted, as well as dedicated resources on their website www.svhs.org.au for those seeking more information,” St Vincent’s said.