Fliers Warned About Tuberculosis
CDC Tells Passengers on Flights With Drug-Resistant-Tuberculosis Patient to Get Tested
WebMD News Archive
May 29, 2007 -- The CDC today announced that a U.S. traveler may have put
his fellow fliers at risk for a potentially deadly form of drug-resistant
The traveler, an unnamed man from Atlanta, has extensively drug-resistant
tuberculosis (XDR TB), which is rare but can cause serious illness and
XDR TB is an infectious disease spread from person to person through the
air. But unlike most tuberculosis cases, XDR TB resists the first and second preferred
While XDR TB is rare, it can cause severe illness and death and is an
emerging problem worldwide, CDC director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, told
reporters in a news conference.
In light of the man's condition, the CDC issued its first federal quarantine
order since 1963 for the patient. He is under medical isolation in Atlanta and
will remain quarantined until public health officials deem him no longer a
public health threat.
The CDC is also encouraging other passengers on the man's flights to get
tested for tuberculosis.
The man departed Atlanta on May 12 on Air France flight 385, arriving in
Paris on May 13. He then flew on Czech Air flight 0104 from Prague in the Czech
Republic to Montreal, arriving in Montreal on May 24 and driving to the U.S. on
the same day.
The CDC is not yet releasing the man's seat assignments on those flights,
pending confirmation of that information with airlines.
CDC officials say that when they learned the man had re-entered the U.S.,
they contacted him in New York and asked him to report to an isolation
hospital. He complied.
The CDC then gave the man a choice between continuing his isolation in New
York or returning to Atlanta, where he lives. He chose to return to Atlanta,
and the CDC flew him to Atlanta yesterday on a special CDC plane, so as not to
expose him to other travelers on commercial flights.
"Passengers most likely to be at risk would be the passengers who were
seated in seats immediately close to the patient," Gerberding says.
She notes that the man's tuberculosis didn't appear to be highly contagious.
"In fact, the medical evidence would suggest that his potential for
transmission would be on the low side, but we know it isn't zero,"
"We also want to reassure people who weren't on these flights that their
risk of exposure on a random air flight is extremely low, and we're not
concerned about a generic threat to travelers," Gerberding says.