A passenger with pulmonary/laryngeal tuberculosis: no evidence of transmission on two short flights

Aviat Space Environ Med. 1996 Nov;67(11):1097-100.


Background: We investigated the likelihood of transmission of tuberculosis (TB) from a highly infectious passenger with pulmonary/laryngeal TB to other persons aboard two airline flights, each approximately 1.25 h in duration.

Methods: The 146 passengers with known U.S. residence and 15 flight crew were contacted and referred to their personal health care provider or local health department for a Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST). Each person was asked to complete a risk factor questionnaire and return this form with TST information provided by the health care provider.

Results: Questionnaires and TST results were obtained for 110 passengers (75%) and 10 crew (67%). Twenty passenger TST's were excluded from the analysis: 10 were self-read; one was not read in millimeters of induration; 8 were read after 72 h of being placed; and 1 was performed on a person suspected of being anergic. A positive TST was defined as > or = 5 millimeters of induration. Five passengers were found to be TST positive. There were no positive TST's identified among flight crewmembers. Each of the TST positive individuals had a risk factor for a positive TST. The TST positive individuals were seated throughout the plane, and each was seated at least 5 rows away from the passenger with infectious TB.

Conclusion: Although the possibility of transmission cannot be excluded, the findings of our investigation support a low likelihood of TB transmission during the study flights.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aircraft*
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Travel*
  • Tuberculin Test / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tuberculosis, Laryngeal / transmission*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / transmission*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Ventilation / statistics & numerical data