Fri, Jan 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Officials dismiss fears of TB outbreak at clinic

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City's Bureau of Health yesterday dismissed reports that 10 patients at the municipal Central Clinic and Hospital had contracted tuberculosis (TB).

The bureau said that only one patient with a history of chronic illness was suspected of having redeveloped TB, while the other nine patients had not contracted the disease.

The municipal Central Clinic and Hospital had reported to the Bureau of Health on Dec. 19 last year that it suspected 10 patients in its respiratory illness ward were suffering from TB.

"Only one patient who had suffered from TB in the past and had suffered a stroke was sus-pected of having redeveloped TB, according to the initial examination. But to make sure, we still have to [wait for a test result]," Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director of the Taipei City Health Bureau, said yesterday.

"Two patients were initially identified as not having been infected with TB, but again, to make sure, we took a sputum sample for a bacteria-culture test," Chiou said.

"The other seven patients were confirmed as having been infected with nontuberculosis micro bacterium (NTM), which is relatively easy to cure," he said.

The Cabinet's Center for Dis-ease Control under the Department of Health yesterday also confirmed that the seven patients were infected with NTM and ruled out the possibility of TB.

"Patients on a respirator tend to become infected with NTM, which is easily confused with TB in its initial stages. This resulted in misjudgment," a Center for Disease Control press release said

"Diagnosis of TB has to be carefully conducted through st-ages of checks including a sputum smear, bacteria culture and chest X-ray," the release said.

The center said that only the infection of more than two people in the same ward within 30 days could be considered as collective TB infection.

The center said Taiwan has about 18,000 to 20,000 TB patients and that about 15,000 people contract the disease each year.

The death rate of TB patients has greatly decreased in past decades. In the 1950s about 300 people in every 100,000 would die, while the figure now is about seven in 100,000.

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