For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Tuberculosis Control Program would like to clarify some of the information being reported about the possible exposure of a Kansas woman and others who flew on the same flight as Andrew Speaker, the Atlanta lawyer who was diagnosed with the Extensively Drug Resistant (XDR) form of TB. There is no clinical evidence that Speaker has been infectious at any time.
The TB skin tests being administered to the identified contacts in this investigation, are “baseline tests” that determine if a person was infected with TB prior to the potential exposure. “The incubation period for TB is 6 to 8 weeks,” said Phil Griffin, director of the KDHE TB Program. “Another test will be given eight weeks from the date of the exposure to determine if any of the contacts were infected with XDR TB.” This is the standard practice for all contact investigations of infectious active TB cases.
Persons who may have been exposed are not infectious unless they develop an active form of TB. Active cases of TB are not always infectious or contagious. “Last year in Kansas, there were 82 cases of active TB and 60 of those cases were infectious at some point,” said Griffin. None of the cases in Kansas were the XDR type. Also, only 5 to 10 percent of persons infected will develop active TB and that risk is decreased significantly if the infection is treated.
Normally, only persons sitting on a plane within two rows in any direction from an infected person are tested. But since this is XDR TB, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) is being extremely cautious. The CDC has advised public health agencies that they had contacted 211 of the 281 passengers identified as residing in the U.S. by June 3, with efforts continuing until all are contacted.
“KDHE will continue to monitor this situation. If CDC notifies us of other potential exposures in Kansas, we will notify the person’s local health department for follow up,” said Dr. Howard Rodenberg, Director of the KDHE Division of Health.
Additional information on tuberculosis is available at www.kdheks.gov/tb/links.html.