Babies exposed to TB in Calif. hospitals

Officials in California's Solano and Sacramento counties were urgently tracking down the parents of 35 babies on Tuesday to warn them that the infants were exposed to tuberculosis in two hospital neonatal intensive care units.

California health officials hoped to reach the parents of 20 babies in Sacramento County and 15 in Solano County. The infants require testing or immediate antibiotics because their young ages put them at greater risk for the bacterial disease, the Sacramento Bee reports.

It was determined that a patient with tuberculosis visited the neonatal intensive care unit at Sacramento's Sutter Memorial Hospital between March 14 and March 31. There were 20 babies receiving care in the unit at that time. The same individual visited the neonatal intensive care unit of NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield from March 31 to April 2 and from April 11 to April 19. Fifteen babies were being cared for in the NorthBay unit.

When active cases of tuberculosis are diagnosed, doctors must report them to the state within 24 hours. Hospital workers and health officials then work quickly to find out where the carrier has recently been.

"We believe that the risk of infection with tuberculosis in this particular case is low," Olivia Kasirye, the chief health officer of Sacramento County, said, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Tuberculosis is a life-threatening communicable disease transmitted through the air caused by slow-growing bacteria that typically affect the lungs.