Drug-resistant TB is both extremely contagious and potentially fatal, and the CDC would like to speak with anyone who sat near a passenger who has since been quarantined with the illness. The passenger was on a May 13, Atlanta to Paris, Air France 385 flight and another Czech Air 0104 from Prague to Canada on May 23.
The CDC is concerned about passengers who sat near the infected person because the conditions on a long transatlantic flight make it the most likely place that another person would contract the illness.
“We are focusing in on these two air lines because they are long trips, because our science indicates these are the kinds of trips that could pose a risk of transmission,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.
“The medical evidence would suggest the potential for transmission would be on the low side. But we know it isn’t zero,” she said.
“We are considering not only his own ability to transmit but also the seriousness of this organism and the chance some passenger could be at a special risk on the basis of their own personal medical history,” Gerberding said.
The form of TB carried by the passenger is extremely rare and difficult to treat. It’s also expensive. According to NPR, “One case last year cost as much as a half million dollars to treat.” This is the first time a patient has been quarantined by the CDC since 1963. —MEGHANN MARCO