Dozens tested for TB after possible exposure in Fargoby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — Dozens of patients will be tested for tuberculosis after a doctor at Sanford Hospital in Fargo was diagnosed with the disease.
Sanford has identified 77 patients and 43 staff members who might have been exposed to the disease.
Rachel Birk heads the TB program at the North Dakota Department of Health and said public health officials are working with Sanford to identify anyone who might have been exposed to tuberculosis.
"Sanford is taking the lead on testing those that may have been exposed that were co-workers of this doctor and also patients of the doctor," Birk said. "Beyond that our concern is people that may have been exposed out in the community."
Birk says TB is not easily spread.
"The respiratory droplets that come out when a person is coughing fall to the ground really quickly; they don't stay in the air very long," she said. "That's why we look at people that have close, repeated contact with individuals that have active TB."
Birk said only about ten percent of TB infections turn into active cases of disease. People with compromised immune systems are most at risk of contracting the disease, she said.
She said active tuberculosis is relatively rare in North Dakota; there are about a half-dozen cases a year.