WHO is working closely with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other international partners following the issue of health advisories in connection with an air passenger from the USA who travelled to Europe while affected by XDR-TB.
XDR-TB is a relatively rare type of drug-resistant TB that is resistant to almost all drugs used to treat TB. Cases of XDR-TB has been confirmed in 37 countries to date.
CDC is carrying out investigations in line with those recommended in the WHO Tuberculosis and Air Travel Guidelines. The guidelines include measures that should be considered by relevant authorities to limit the risks of transmission of infectious TB.
Health authorities are seeking to identify and locate the passengers who sat within two rows of the individual and then recommend what those people should do to determine whether or not they have been infected with TB. This approach is consistent with the WHO TB and Air Travel Guidelines for TB contact tracing.
WHO’s TB and Air Travel Guidelines emphasize that under normal conditions the quality of the air on board commercial airliners is higher than it is in most buildings. Passengers travelling on flights longer than eight hours may be at higher risk of becoming infected with TB if they sit near someone with active TB, but the risk should be similar to what it is in other circumstances where people are together in a confined indoor space. Brief contact with an infectious individual poses little to no risk of becoming infected with TB.