WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has isolated a man who may have exposed fellow passengers on two transatlantic flights to a strain of tuberculosis that is extremely hard to treat, officials said on Tuesday.
It was the first time the federal government has issued such an isolation order since at least 1963, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said authorities were trying to notify passengers who traveled aboard Air France 385 from Atlanta to Paris on May 13 and back to the United States from Prague on Czech Air Flight 0104 on May 24.
They may have been exposed to the patient, who has a strain of tuberculosis that resists virtually all antibiotics called extensive drug-resistant TB, or XDR TB for short.
"This is an unusual TB organism, one that's very, very difficult to treat. And we want to make sure that we have done everything we possibly can to identify people who could be at risk," Gerberding said at a news conference.
Authorities did not identify the man, but said he voluntarily entered a medical isolation facility in New York City.
"The passengers most likely to be at risk would be the passengers would were seated in seats immediately close to the patient," Gerberding said.
"And consistent with the World Health Organization guidelines, CDC is recommending that those passengers be notified by their health officials in their responsible country or state, and that such persons then have a test for tuberculosis to determine whether or not they were in fact exposed.
Others aboard the planes also should be notified so they can be tested for TB, although their risk is not thought to be high, she said.