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Brief: Tuberculosis Alert Issued for Some Recent Air Travelers

May 29, 2007 — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a tuberculosis alert for travelers.
The alert, distributed locally by the Health Department, said an unidentified U.S. patient was diagnosed with a particularly vicious strain of tuberculosis called XDR TB, which is highly resistant to a wide array of antibiotics. The CDC, working with a number of international, state and airline partners as part of its investigation, said it learned that the tuberculosis patient traveled to Europe aboard a commercial Air France flight. The infected person left Atlanta on May 12 and arrived in Paris a day later. On May 24 he or she flew from Prague, Czech Republic, to Montreal, Canada. The patient returned to the U.S. on May 24 by car and was hospitalized a day later.
Health Department Epidemiologist Eugene Tull said preliminary tests show the traveler had evidence of pulmonary TB. According to Tull, he or she was considered potentially infectious at the time of his travel, and met the criteria of the World Health Organization guidelines for starting an airline-contact investigation. Both CDC and WHO are working with various agencies to notify and follow up with the passengers and crew of those flights who may be potentially at risk for exposure to tuberculosis, Tull said.
The CDC is recommending the following people be evaluated for TB infection to include an initial evaluation and testing, with follow up 8 to 10 weeks later for reevaluation:
— Passengers and crew on board Air France No. 385 departing Atlanta on May 12 and arriving in Paris on May 13;
— Passengers on Czech Air No. 410 departing from Prague and arriving in Montreal on May 24; and
— Passengers seated in the same row as the patient and those seated in the two rows ahead and behind, as well as the cabin crew members working in the same cabin.
According to the CDC, the risk of acquiring any type of TB appears to depend on several factors, such as the extent of disease in the source patient, duration of exposure and ventilation. People who become infected usually have been exposed for several hours (or days) in poorly ventilated or crowded environments, such as an airplane.
An important way to prevent the spread and transmission is by limiting an infectious person’s contact with other people. So people who have a confirmed diagnosis of TB or XDR TB are placed on treatment and kept isolated until they are no longer infectious.
If you or someone you know might have been exposed to TB or XDR TB, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO for further information or click here.
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