Seattle patient with TB may have come in contact with others

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Harborview Medical Center says a patient who tested positive for tuberculosis may have come in contact with other patients and staff on three different occasions in recent weeks.

The Seattle hospital said in a news release Thursday that it believes the risk of transmission is low. But officials are contacting about 45 patients, as well as staff, who may have been exposed to this person. The hospital is providing free TB testing for them.

Harborview says the patient was put into isolation and treated as soon as tuberculosis was suspected. It says the patient did not present with typical symptoms and suffers from several chronic illnesses.

The hospital says tuberculosis is infectious but is not easily spread like the flu or common cold and can be treated with antibiotics.

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that usually attack the lungs, and is spread through the air when an infectious person coughs or sneezes.