Airline Passenger's Tuberculosis Test Awaited
Schneider, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
An unidentified Trans World Express passenger believed to be infected with tuberculosis remains in isolation and in fair condition at an area hospital after he was rushed there from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Saturday.
Officials at the airline and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning his fellow passengers of the danger should the man's tests confirming tuberculosis come back positive.
The man flew from Rome to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and cleared customs before taking a commuter flight to Washington. Minutes after the flight landed, emergency crews at Reagan National took the man to Inova Fairfax Hospital at his request.
"The first thing that needs to be done is confirming the diagnosis of tuberculosis in the passenger so that everyone is not getting worried for nothing," said Dr. Ken Castro, director of the division of tuberculosis elimination at CDC.
Isolation rooms at the hospital like the one occupied by the airline passenger are normal hospital rooms that are sealed off by an outer room that serves as a sterile staging area for doctors and guests.
Signs warning visitors of the patient's condition are on the walls and precautions such as surgical masks and a sink for hand washing are available in the outer room.
Joanne Jorgensen, acting administrative director of health in Fairfax County, said only those directly in front or beside the potentially infected passenger would be at serious risk.
"Most planes have filters - the same filters we use in exam rooms - that circulate and cleanse the air very well," Miss Jorgensen said. "You would have to have pretty close, intense contact with someone to catch it."