Nearly 200 employees, patients potentially exposed to TB at Seattle hospital

Harborview Medical Center is offering free tuberculosis tests to 45 patients and some hospital staff members who may have been exposed to TB at the Seattle-based facility.

According to The Seattle Times, about 150 staff members were potentially exposed.

A patient was diagnosed with active TB, but the diagnosis was delayed because the patient — whose name and gender have not been released — has several health conditions and didn't show traditional symptoms of TB infection, according to a hospital statement.

The patient visited the hospital on three occasions between December and Jan. 20, according to the hospital. Once clinicians suspected the patient had TB, they placed the patient in isolation and started treatment.

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The hospital is contacting all potentially exposed patients and staff and offering free TB tests, even though the likelihood of transmission to others is "relatively low," according to the statement.

TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and, if left untreated, can be deadly, according to the CDC. The bacteria spread in the air when someone with an active TB infection coughs, speaks or sings. TB is not easily spread — it typically takes repeated prolonged exposure to pass on the bacteria.

Ten drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating TB, and the regimen lasts six to nine months. The patient in this case is in satisfactory condition, according to Harborview.

TB is becoming more common in the U.S. — the number of TB cases in the nation increased over the previous year in 2015 after having declined yearly from 1993 through 2014.

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