Ongoing TB Screening at GMH for Contacts to Active TB Case

Press Release No. 2017-075

Ongoing TB Screening at GMH for Contacts to Active TB Case

The Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) continues to screen babies and their parents identified as contacts to the active case of tuberculosis (TB) diagnosed in an employee of GMH who worked in the Nursery.  Of the total 317 babies exposed during the period of April 1, 2017 to August 8, 2017, 166 were screened.  No evidence of TB was detected in any of the babies.   Additionally, 104 parents were screened and their results are forthcoming.

GMH staff has attempted to reach all 317 families of the babies based on telephone numbers listed on the medical record.  However, many families have not been reached because contact numbers are no longer in service.  For parents whose contact number(s) have changed, please call the GMH switchboard at 647-2552 – 4 to verify if their baby is on the list of contacts who need to be screened.  We do not want anyone to be missed.  Letters are being mailed to contacts whose telephone numbers were either not in service or otherwise could not be contacted by telephone.

During this response, 14 physicians, 3 radiologists, and 3 Pharm D’s volunteered from the community to assist with the large number of patients needing to be screened.  Mr. Phillip Talboy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Senior Advisor assigned to Guam to provide technical assistance to the TB Program, has stated that he is extremely impressed with the collaboration he has witnessed between DPHSS, GMH, and the health care community. 

Many individuals continue to have concerns regarding the risk of getting TB.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria causing tuberculosis, is carried through the air in infectious droplet nuclei too small for the naked eye (small air-borne particles less than 5 microns in size) which is produced when persons with tuberculosis of the lung or larynx sneeze, cough, speak or sing.  People cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has TB disease.

Children are less likely to spread TB bacteria to others. This is because TB disease most commonly seen in children is usually less infectious than TB disease in adults.  Additionally, their cough isn't strong enough to spread the droplets into the air.

Signs and symptoms of active TB in an infant include:

  • Cough;
  • Feelings of sickness or weakness, lethargy, and/or reduced playfulness;
  • Weight loss or failure to thrive;
  • Fever; and/or
  • Night sweats.

For information regarding appointment scheduling for baby contacts, please call the GMH switchboard at 647-2552/3/4.  For general information on TB, please call the TB Control Program at 735-7131/7145 or go to www.cdc.gov/tb .