(ANSA) - Rome, August 24 - At least 10 babies have been
infected by tuberculosis after being born at Rome's Gemelli
hospital in recent months, the Lazio regional government has
Health officials ordered the screening of newborns after a
38-year-old nurse who worked at Gemelli's neonatal ward between
March and July tested positive for TB.
The nurse is being treated at another hospital.
It is not clear how or where she became infected, in spite
of being vaccinated against TB.
''The children are not ill or contagious,'' said
Costantino Romagnoli, the head of Gemelli's neonatal department.
''The tests indicate exposure to the TB bacteria.
children might develop the disease only if they were not
immediately given prophylactic treatment, but they will be''.
Regional officials said the families of the 1,271 babies
born between March and July will be contacted by Friday for
Screenings have been stepped up from 25 to 150 per day, in
order to reach all babies at risk by the end of August.
It is impossible to predict how many of them will turn up
positive, Romagnoli added.
A statement with screening results will be issued at 8pm
daily, health officials said.
Another five-month-old child who tested positive for TB has been
admitted to Bambin Gesu hospital, but it is unclear whether her
exposure is related to the same nurse.
Lazio regional authorities confirmed that people exposed to
TB do not necessarily develop the disease, as long as
prophylactic protocols are followed.
''This is not an epidemic,'' said Lazio Governor Renata
Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio also said there was no
need to panic.
''Millions are exposed every year, but only 4,000 are
likely to develop full-blown TB,'' he said.
''It's a completely curable disease.
There is no cause for
A parliamentary health committee has requested a report