City fire brigades and hazardous material crews have been dispatched to Johns Hopkins Hospital and several people were evacuated from the cancer research buildings.
A spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement that authorities are “investigating the possible release of a small amount of tuberculosis during transportation in an internal bridge between Cancer Research Building 1 and Cancer Research Building 2”.
The employees in the area at the time are being evaluated at this time but “all indications are that no other individuals have been exposed", however the buildings have not been cleared for activity yet.
Police have also closed off the surrounding streets after the incident, which occurred at approximately 12:10pm.
TB is a highly infectious disease which affects the lungs and is transmitted through droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing.
While TB is treatable, certain strains of the disease have become resistant to certain antibiotics and even effective treatments can be long, complicated, and expensive - particularly for populations disproportionately affected by the disease like those with autoimmune disorders.
If undiagnosed or untreated, the disease can be fatal - the World Health Organisation has labelled it as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide after 1.7 million died from it in 2016.
The Centres for Disease Control reported the number of TB cases in the US rose for the first time in 25 years between 2014 and 2015.
At the time, 29 states and Washington DC all experienced an increase in the number of reported cases. More than half of reported cases that year came from California, Florida, New York and Texas.
Medical professionals have said a rise in the infected may be due to a global lack of funding for preventative vaccines and measures in the US, but also in China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
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