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Murrieta Hospital Employee Tests Positive for TB

Riverside County health officials are working with Rancho Springs Medical Center to contact those who might have been exposed to tuberculosis.

Rancho Springs Medical Center, 25500 Medical Center Drive, Murrieta. (Patch file photo)
Rancho Springs Medical Center, 25500 Medical Center Drive, Murrieta. (Patch file photo)

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 2:13 p.m. June 21, then updated at 3:47 p.m. with a response from Brian Connors, spokesman for Rancho Springs Medical Center.

An employee at Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis, and the hospital is working with county health officials to contact those who might have been exposed to the illness, it was announced Friday.

The County of Riverside Department of Public Health in a news release stated it is “working with hospital officials to identify patients and staff who may have been potentially exposed and will be advising that they be screened for TB.”

The screening consists of a TB skin test, followed by a chest X-ray if the test is positive, stated Jose Arballo, Jr., spokesman for the health department.

“The risk of transmission is very low,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county health officer. “TB testing is being recommended as a precautionary measure.”

The Rancho Springs employee is being treated and is expected to make a full recovery, officials said; no other employee has tested positive for the illness.

All hospital employees are required to be tested annually for TB.

Rancho Springs Medical Center self-reported the illness to the California Department of Public Health-Licensing and Certification, Arballo said.

Tuberculosis is a disease spread by close, prolonged contact with an individual who has active tuberculosis, he said.

“People can become infected with TB by breathing air exhaled by someone who is sick with TB. Left untreated, TB can result in serious complications.”

Common symptoms include a productive cough, unexplained weight loss, fever, and feeling tired, officials said.

“Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. A person with inactive (latent) TB cannot spread the TB bacteria to others.”

Anyone concerned about TB is advised to contact their health care provider or the Public Health Department Disease Control at 951-358-5107. For additional information about tuberculosis, visit the Department of Public Health’s website Rivco-diseasecontrol.org.

“This is something the public needs to know,” said Brian Connors, spokesman for Southwest Health Care, which operates the Murrieta hospital. “We want the public to be informed. Even more so, we are making an action plan immediately to reach out to people (who may have been exposed) and say ‘This is where you need to go, this is what you need to do.’”

Connors could not say which department the employee worked in, or when the exposure may have happened. It would jeopardize staff and patient privacy, he said.

“We are being fully cooperative with the Department of Public Health. This is really being led by them. It has been a great working collaboration,” Connors told Patch. “We are being very proactive and succinct about this.”

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