Transmission of tuberculosis during air travel is rare. Tracing possible contacts of a patient with tuberculosis should be done only if certain criteria are met.

Criteria - all of the following:

(1) The flight occurred within the past 90 days (3 months)

(2) The patient with tuberculosis was potentially infectious at the time of the flight.

(3) Passengers were on the plane for >= 8 hours.


Who should be contacted:

(1) flight attendants

(2) passengers seated

(2a) in the same row adjacent to the passenger

(2b) in the 2 rows in front of the passenger

(2c) in the 2 rows behind the passenger



• The lookback was limited to 90 days because of the difficulty in looking back further. With computer records today this should not be that difficult.

• The WHO criteria use duration of the flight rather than time on the plane. However, flight delays can significantly extend the at-risk period.

• In a large plane the same row may involve 3 sections. The goal is to limit the tracing to passengers in the immediate vicinity of the patient.

• In theory this would involve up to 16 - 22 passengers (3 or 4 in 2 rows in front and behind, 2 or 3 passengers on either side).

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