Tuberculosis spill triggers hospital evacuation in Baltimore

Henrietta Brewer
July 9, 2018

Two Johns Hopkins Hospital buildings in Baltimore had to be evacuated today after it was determined that a small amount of frozen tuberculosis had been spilled on a footbridge between two buildings.

"There was a small tube that contained a frozen sample and it was dropped and the lid came off while the sample was still frozen inside", said Dr. Landon King, executive vice dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

This is an ongoing investigation.

The spill that caused two buildings to be evacuated Thursday afternoon is believed to be a one-time incident, spokesman Ken Willis said in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the incidence of tuberculosis in the United States is decreasing with 9,272 reported cases in 2016. Authorities said employees on the site do not need to do additional tests as authorities declared no incidence of health risks.

Kim Hoppe, director of public relations and corporate communications at Johns Hopkins Medicine, released a statement addressing the situation.

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that affects the lungs.

Fire officials confirmed the hazmat situation began around 12:22 p.m. People were evacuated from both cancer research buildings as a precaution, while hazmat crews suited up to go inside and contain the contamination.

There were employees in the area when the incident occurred, but hospital officials told the Baltimore Sun that no one required treatment. Baltimore City Fire and Rescue responded to the scene initiating "hazmat protocols" for handling hazardous materials. Other people who might have been exposed are being sheltered in place.

Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a risky airborne disease which spreads easily via air. If the person is not treated properly then the disease can be fatal.

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