Wednesday, May 30, 2007

US Issues First Virus-Related Quarantine Order Since 1963

Super TB Outbreak Sparks CDC Into Pandemic Mode

I include this remarkable story about an outbreak of the incredibly resilient 'Super TB' virus as an example of how the US Centre For Disease Control shifts into pandemic-alert mode, and how they deal with a planeload of possibly infected people who have already dispersed back into their communities.

When the bird flu pandemic begins, you can expect the earliest days of the outbreak to be very similar to the story below about 'Super TB'. In effect, the CDC is taking a 'dry run' at how it will deal with the beginning of a bird flu pandemic through the issuing of this quarantine order :

The United States has placed in isolation a man who may have exposed fellow passengers and crew on two May trans-Atlantic flights to a tuberculosis strain that is extremely hard to treat, officials said on Tuesday.

It was first time the U.S. government has issued such an isolation order since 1963, when it took action against a smallpox patient, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The man, a U.S. citizen from the state of Georgia, is suffering from extensive drug-resistant TB, known as XDR TB, which resists virtually all antibiotics, the CDC said. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that usually attacks the lungs.

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said authorities in the United States and other countries were trying to notify passengers who traveled on Air France flight 385, arriving in Paris from Atlanta on May 13, and on Czech Air flight 0104, arriving in Montreal from Prague on May 24.

Gerberding said health authorities were aware of the man's condition before he left the United States and warned him against traveling.

"Under the circumstances, I think we were surprised that the patient had left the country," she said.

She said the man had "compelling personal reasons" to travel despite being ill. "I want to emphasize that from our perspective, no laws were broken here," Gerberding said.

The man returned to the United States by car. He voluntarily entered a medical isolation facility in New York City on Friday before being flown on a CDC plane back to Atlanta on Monday. Authorities called him "relatively asymptomatic."

Tuberculosis kills about 1.6 million people annually, with the highest number in Africa. It is spread through the air when infectious people cough, sneeze, talk or spit.

"This is an unusual TB organism, one that's very, very difficult to treat. And we want to make sure that we have done everything we possibly can to identify people who could be at risk," Gerberding told a news conference.

Dr. Kenneth Castro of the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination said that from 1993 to 2006 CDC knew of 49 people in the United States with XDR TB.

XDR TB requires 18 months to two years of treatment with a mixture of four to six drugs. The treatment can often require surgery, as well, and can cost $500,000 per patient.

The Centre For Disease Control Press Release Announcing The Quarantine Order

1 comment:

Bob said...

In the headline of a Bob McCarty Writes™ post May 3, I raised this question: Will Liberals View Terrorism & TB in Similar Ways? Now, it seems we're getting the opportunity to find out. It's going to get interesting.