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Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 14:27 GMT
Hospital babies tested for TB
Babies are currently undergoing tests for TB
Babies thought to be at low risk of contracting TB
A hospital in north London is testing babies in its special care unit for tuberculosis after a cleaner contracted the disease.

But officials at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield said the risk to the infants was low because the female cleaner did not come into close contact with them.

The babies in the unit, which cares for seriously ill and underweight infants, are being assessed and given skin tests.


The cleaner did not bring herself into close contact with babies or families so the risk is very small

Hospital spokesman

Health officials have been reassuring parents, who are being given the test results, that the disease contracted by the cleaner was not found to be at its most highly infective stage.

A hospital spokesman said: "There was a cleaner at the hospital diagnosed as having TB.

"The form of the disease is not very infectious and the cleaner did not bring herself into close contact with babies or families so the risk is very small."

The hospital discovered that the cleaner had contracted the disease in December.

She had worked for the hospital for five weeks.

There are an estimated eight million new tuberculosis cases and at least two million deaths from the disease each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

Eighty per cent of cases are spread across 22 countries, mostly in Asia and Africa.

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See also:

12 Apr 00 | Health
Newborn babies in TB scare
23 Oct 00 | Health
Sharp increase in tuberculosis
17 Aug 00 | Health
TB 'toughness gene' uncovered
22 Jun 00 | Health
Scientists fight back against TB
24 Mar 00 | Health
Global threat of TB
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