Federal Quarantine for TB Traveler
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 2:35 AM
ATLANTA -- A man with a rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis ignored doctors' advice and took two trans-Atlantic flights, leading to the first U.S. government-ordered quarantine since 1963, health officials said Tuesday.
The man, whom officials did not identify, is at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital in respiratory isolation.
He was potentially infectious at the time of the flights, so officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended medical exams for cabin crew members on those flights, as well as passengers sitting in the same rows or within two rows.
CDC officials did not release row numbers but said the airlines were working with health officials to contact those passengers. Passengers who should be tested will be contacted by health officials from their home countries.
The man told health officials he was not coughing during the flights. Other passengers are not considered at high risk of infection because tests indicated the amount of TB bacteria in him was low, said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC's division of global migration and quarantine.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the man said he had traveled to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon and expressed frustration with how he said the CDC handled the situation.
"I didn't want to put anybody at risk," the man, who declined to be identified because of the stigma surrounding his condition, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We just wanted to come home and get treatment."
The infected man flew from Atlanta to Paris on May 12 aboard Air France Flight 385. He returned to North America on May 24 aboard Czech Air Flight 0104 from Prague to Montreal. The man then drove into the United States at the Champlain, N.Y., border crossing.
The man had been advised by health officials in early May not to travel to Europe. "He was told traveling is against medical advice," said Dr. Steven Katkowsky, director of the Fulton County Department of Health & Wellness.
The man conceded that the health department advised him not to travel, but he didn't want to call off his wedding, he told the Journal-Constitution. The CDC never told him he couldn't go, he said.
When the man arrived back in the United States, he voluntarily went to a New York hospital, then was flown by the CDC to Atlanta. He is not facing prosecution, health officials said.
The man said the CDC contacted him in Rome during his honeymoon, telling him that he had to return home and that he had to turn himself in to Italian authorities, be isolated and be treated there, the Journal-Constitution reported.