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Infants exposed to TB at Rome hospital

ROME, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Health authorities in Rome say the number of newborn infants found to have been exposed to tuberculosis in a city hospital has grown to 52.

Health officials ordered the screening of infants born in the Gemelli hospital after a 38-year-old nurse who worked at the facility's neonatal ward between March and July tested positive for TB, Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday.

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The nurse is being treated at another hospital.

"The children are not ill or contagious," Costantino Romagnoli, the head of Gemelli's neonatal department, said.

"The children might develop the disease only if they were not immediately given prophylactic treatment, but they will be," he said, noting officials have contacted the families of the 1,271 babies born between March and July for screening appointments.

People exposed to TB do not necessarily develop the disease as long as prophylactic protocols are followed, officials said.

"Millions are exposed every year, but only 4,000 are likely to develop full-blown TB," Lazio regional Gov. Renata Polverini said. "It's a completely curable disease. There is no cause for alarm.

"This is not an epidemic."

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