Two of the best informed agencies on TB released guidelines and facts about TB exposure on airlines.
The joint release was sparked by an Atlanta lawyer's trips to Europe and Canada after being diagnosed with a virulent form of TB resistant to most drugs.
The agencies agree that the TB-infected passengers on flights of 8 hours and longer pose a greater threat to their fellow passengers than those on shorter flights.
The CDC stressed these points to frequent travelers:
- Only a person with active TB disease can spread TB bacteria to others.
- Persons who have spent prolonged time with someone with active TB disease should get tested for TB infection. It usually takes prolonged exposure to someone with active TB disease for someone to become infected.
- After exposure, it usually takes 8 to 10 weeks before the TB test would show if someone had become infected.
- A person with a positive test for TB infection (i.e., latent TB infection) is not sick and cannot spread TB germs to others.
However, some of these persons can go on to develop TB disease, especially if their immune system is weak--for example, HIV-infected persons, persons with diabetes, or persons undergoing treatment for certain forms of cancer.
WHO has released an updated booklet on prevention and control of TB during air travel. To download the publication, click http://www.who.int/tb/en/