PHOENIX, Ariz. Some airplane passengers got a scare when they were kept onboard after they landed and told that one of the passengers may have tuberculosis.
About 70 passengers on a US Airways Express flight from Texas to Arizona on Saturday were kept on the plane for a short period, and some say they were told to get tuberculosis tests and vaccinations.
Passenger Dean Davidson told the Arizona Republic that the plane was directed to a secluded area while they waited for about 20 minutes. Responders boarded the plane in Phoenix and removed a man who was asked to put on a medical mask.
“I’m actually very concerned,” he said. “I can’t imagine that others aren’t becoming more concerned as we have more time to ponder what happened and the lack of information.”
US Airways spokesman Bill McGlahsen says the airline was notified after the plane departed Austin that the passenger's status had been changed to "no-fly" because of an unspecified medical condition. McGlahsen told the told the Arizona Republic that the patient was currently under medical review as of the night of Dec. 1.
Federal and Maricopa County health officials said there was no immediate confirmation that the passenger has an infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also told the Arizona Republic that they have not confirmed what the passenger was sick with, and did not elaborate on what the medical emergency was.
Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria targets typically targets the lungs, but it has been known to attack the kidney, spine and brain.
Symptoms include a bad cough that lasts for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and night sweating. Left untreated, it can result in death of the patient.
The bacteria can live in a person without making them sick in what is known as latent tuberculosis. In this case, the immune system is able to suppress the bacteria, and it cannot be spread. However, if the bacteria becomes active, it can make the person sick, and they become infectious.
The disease is spread in the air from one person to another when the infected coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. It is not spread by touching an infected person, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.