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Travel Med Infect Dis. 2010 Mar;8(2):120-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2009.08.001. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Three air travel-related contact investigations associated with infectious tuberculosis, 2007-2008.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Atlanta, GA, USA. <>



The potential for transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis during air travel has garnered considerable attention in the media and among public health authorities due to high-profile cases of international travelers with infectious tuberculosis (TB).


During 2007 and 2008, state and local health officials were asked to locate and conduct diagnostic follow-up for airline passengers considered contacts of three travelers, two with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB and one considered highly contagious, who undertook air travel while infectious with TB disease.


Public health departments in 21 states located and evaluated 79 (60%) of the 131 passenger contacts identified; 52 (40%) were lost to follow-up. Eight (10%) contacts had a history of TB disease or latent TB infection and were not retested. Sixteen (23%) of 71 contacts tested had positive TB test results suggesting latent TB infection, 15 of whom were from countries reporting estimated TB disease rates of greater than 200 cases/100,000 persons.


Passenger contacts' positive test results may represent prior TB infection acquired in their countries of residence or may be a result of new TB infection resulting from exposure during air travel.

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