2 Johns Hopkins Hospital buildings evacuated after 'inadvertent' tuberculosis release

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Baltimore firefighters on Thursday cleared people out of two medical research buildings due to tuberculosis contamination, but authorities later said there was no risk of infection to anyone and the evacuation order was lifted.

Kim Hoppe, a spokeswoman with Johns Hopkins Medicine, said a small sample of frozen tuberculosis was "inadvertently released" in an internal bridge between two cancer research buildings that don't connect to the hospital.

The release prompted the evacuation of both Hopkins research buildings in the early afternoon. Employees who were in the area where the release occurred were isolated and evaluated.

But authorities later confirmed "that there was no risk to anyone on campus," Hoppe said. She thanked Hopkins employees and city firefighters for their speedy response.

Baltimore Fire Chief Roman Clark said people were allowed back into the research buildings by late afternoon.

Tuberculosis is the world's leading infectious killer. It has long been on the decline in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there were 9,272 U.S. cases in 2016. Airborne germs spread the disease from person to person.

Statement from Johns Hopkins Medicine spokesperson Kim Hoppe:

"The Baltimore City Fire Department is actively 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. Employees were in the area when the incident occurred, and these employees have been isolated and are expected to be evaluated by the fire department. As a cautionary measure, both Cancer Research Buildings have been evacuated. So far, all indications are that no other individuals have been exposed, however the buildings will remain evacuated until cleared by public safety officials."