Worker in Maternity Ward of Manhattan Hospital Tests Positive for TB

The hospital declined to comment on how far back the exposure spans

A Manhattan hospital says an employee in its maternity ward tested positive for tuberculosis, potentially exposing newborns to a disease that was the leading cause of death in the United States more than a century ago.

St. Luke's-Roosevelt notified parents the worker had tested positive for TB on Wednesday, the same day it found out. They declined to comment on how far back the exposure spans, but the parents who notified NBC 4 New York about the infection gave birth more than two months ago.

The hospital released a statement saying that everyone who may have been exposed to the disease had been informed. It's not clear exactly how many babies could have been exposed.

"We understand that patients may have concerns, and we want to assure everyone that we are taking swift and comprehensive steps to address the situation," the statement said. "If you were recently a patient at Roosevelt Hospital and have not been notified, then you were not in contact with the infected staff member."

The hospital stressed that few people exposed to TB become infected, and it typically only happens after continuous exposure.

Nava Silton, a doctor who is not affiliated with the hospital, said the airborne bacterial infection, which mostly affects the lungs, is extremely curable if detected and treated.

A man who visited his sister in the maternity ward Wednesday said he had only seen excellent work at the hospital.

"They've given excellent care all the way through, so I believe whatever needs to be done will be done," said Lance Outar.

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