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jan 13 2010

Contagious TB patient violates federal "do not board" rule

You've heard about the government's no-fly list for suspected terrorists, but did you know there's also a do-not-board list for people with contagious diseases?

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security have a list of 88 persons with known communicable diseases that pose a serious public health threat. At the moment, all of the people on the list suffer from suspected or confirmed infectious tuberculosis.

The list was created in 2007 in response to Patient Zero, a man with TB who flew across country and possibly imperilled other passengers by coughing infectious material into the cabin air.

Last Friday, a new name was added to the Do Not Board list. Fourteen hours later on January 9, the man stepped aboard US Airways Flight 401 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to San Francisco, says CNN. He had a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

The man was intercepted by agents when he landed, before he boarded a second flight headed internationally.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

"When transmission does occur, it tends to occur on long-haul flights," longer than eight hours, said Dr. Martin Cetron, CDC director for global migration and quarantine. "Fortunately, we were able to intercept this individual before they took the high-risk flight."

Because the US Airways flight lasted less than 6 hours, the airline has not contacted its passengers to alert them.

"If someone is untreated and they're coughing, they are putting the infectious organisms in the air. They shouldn't be going into enclosed environments," said Dr. L. Masae Kawamura, director of San Francisco's TB Control Section. "Going on a plane, that's not OK until you're safe to be back in the public."

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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