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The risk of communicable disease transmission during air travel is of public health concern and has received much attention over the years. We retrospectively reviewed information from nine flights (≥ 8 hours) associated with infectious tuberculosis (TB) cases in Ireland between September 2011 and November 2014 to investigate whether possible transmission had occurred. Twenty-four flights notified in Ireland associated with sputum smear-positive pulmonary TB cases with a history of air travel were reviewed. Nine were suitable for inclusion and analysed. Six cases of infectious TB travelled on nine flights. A total of 232 passengers were identified for contact tracing; 85.3% (n = 198) had sufficient information available for follow-up. In total, 12.1% (n = 24) were reported as screened for TB. The results revealed no active TB cases among passengers and 16.7% (n = 4) were diagnosed with latent TB infection (LTBI) all of whom had other risk factors. Despite the limited sample size, we found no evidence of transmission from infectious passengers. This study identified challenges in obtaining complete timely airline manifests, leading to inadequate passenger information for follow-up. Receipt of TB screening results from international colleagues was also problematic. The challenge of interpreting the tuberculin skin test results in determining recent vs earlier infection was encountered.


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