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CDC Trying To Track Down Passengers In TB Scare

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Health officials say the Georgia man under federal quarantine with a drug resistant form of tuberculosis would not have been able to transmit the disease to anyone while he was hospitalized in New York.

The Department of Health says the Atlanta man was in isolation at Bellevue Hospital last week, but did not come in contact with anyone except hospital staff. He was then put on a special government plane to Atlanta where he is now under federal quarantine.

Meanwhile, federal health officials say they are working closely with different airlines and foreign governments to find anyone who may have sat close to the man on trans-Atlantic flights.

The CDC says the infected man flew from Atlanta to Paris on May 12th on Air France flight 385. Then he flew to Canada on May 24th on Czech Air Flight 0104 from Prague to Montreal.

Health officials are urging the crew members and passengers who sat within two rows of the man to get tested.

The CDC says this is a very difficult and time consuming investigation.

"The contact tracing investigation as Dr. Gerberding indicated yesterday is not an instantaneous process,” said Dr. Martin Cetron of the CDC Division of Global Migration. “One not only needs to reconstruct accurately the airline flights, request the manifests through multiple government sources and multiple airlines internationally, then take that manifest information and identify where the individual sat."

After landing in Montreal, the man drove to the city, where he was isolated at Bellevue.

Despite the concerns for the passengers on the flights, medical experts assure that TB is not easy to get.

"The main way that TB is transmitted, is that someone coughs and then someone breathes in those droplets. And then they can get TB,” said Dr. Martin Blaser, chairman, NYU School of Medicine. “It's not very contagious. It's not like the flu or like the common cold. And in general, someone has to be coughing a lot."

Questions are also swirling about the man's decision to fly, despite warnings from health officials not to. He told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he did not mean to put anyone at risk, but that he traveled to Europe because he didn't want to put off his wedding.

He also told the paper he felt the need to return to the U.S. because he was afraid if he didn't, he wouldn't get the treatment he needed to survive.

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