On Thursday, one of the world’s deadliest diseases — tuberculosis, or TB,– made a rare stateside reemergence. That afternoon, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland reported a small dosage of the infectious germs was possibly released in the facilities during its transportation. The incident prompted the evacuation of many buildings initially. However now, officials say no one is at risk of contracting the disease.
WBAL reported the incident involved a small frozen sample in a vial of tuberculosis when it was dropped on the floor, causing its lid to fall off. The drop happened in the internal bridge connecting the hospital‘s Cancer Research Building 1 to the second research building. Even though the second building was a non-patient area, someone pulled the fire alarm and employees evacuated.
A Johns Hopkins spokesperson spoke saying the Fire and Rescue unit of Baltimore initiated hazmat protocols. For extreme caution, both research buildings evacuated. Public safety officials along with infectious disease experts have cleared the premises. There is no risk to anyone on the campus.
What is TB (Tuberculosis) and Just How Dangerous Is It?
A bacteria called Mycobacterium is typically the cause of Tuberculosis. This disease is one of the deadliest and infectious worldwide. Ten million became infected during its tyranny, and at least 1.7 million have died from its effects in 2016 alone according to the CDC. The disease, however, has decreased in popularity over the years. In 2016, The states only reported 9,272 cases, the lowest toll recorded to that date.
The disease spreads through the air and usually attacks the lungs. It causes a hacking cough that lasts for weeks, pained chest, and the production of blood through coughing. Most often, it lies dormant in the body, unable of causing disease or being contagious. Even though those with latent TB never develop symptoms, the germ can later emerge through their life, typically with a weakened immune system. Due to its ability to pick on those with compromised immune systems, TB is even more dangerous and perhaps fatal for those who also have HIV.
Treating TB through a months-long course of antibiotics is possible. However, it’s hardiness, and poor management of medicines on the doctors’ behalf have enabled resistant strains to crop up. Nearly 20 percent of TB strains are multi-drug resistant, meaning they can rebuff the two frontline drugs used to treat the disease: rifampicin and isoniazid. Two percent are extensively drug-resistant which means they can resist almost every antibiotic available in modern use. Doctors say some strains are even entirely untreatable.
Thankfully, that’s nothing to worry about for this scenario at Johns Hopkins.