VA notifies 400 veterans of possible tuberculosis exposure

Senior Airman Kelly Boos, right, administers a tuberculosis test vaccination to 2nd Lt. Ryan Yochum, left, Aug. 6, 2014, at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Immunizations Clinic. Boos is an aerospace medical technician and Yochum is a student with the 588th Flying Training Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Desiree N. Palacios)

A military veteran was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis by the Veteran Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

VA Pittsburgh is worried that the veteran, who visited two other VA hospitals in Pennsylvania, might have exposed other veterans to the disease.

Infection prevention officials at VA Pittsburgh are sending letters to veterans who might have crossed paths with the infected veteran.

The officials are asking veterans who receive the letter to get tested for tuberculosis as a precaution.

“The chance of developing tuberculosis from this level of exposure is very, very low,” said Dr. Brooke Decker, VA Pittsburgh director of infection prevention. “While it is unlikely anyone exposed in this incident will become ill, out of an abundance of caution we are recommending veterans who receive a letter be tested.”

According to WTAE, the infected veteran was diagnosed with tuberculosis on November 17. He is currently receiving treatment and is responding well to the antibiotics he has been taking.

VA Pittsburgh doctors said they had not identified any other cases of tuberculosis linked to the infected veteran. The doctors also said they were working closely with the Allegheny County Health Department on the issue.

VA Pittsburgh is offering free testing to veterans that received the notification. The veterans are also allowed to pursue testing at their own expense through their non-VA physician or through county and state health department offices.

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