A TB patient's bus ride from Boston to Montreal in May is causing panic among co-passengers of a possible exposure to Tuberculosis. Massachusetts health officials are warning passengers who traveled by the bus with patient that they could be infected.
The unidentified passenger arrived in Montreal aboard a Vermont Transit Lines bus and returned to Boston May 8.The patient was diagnosed later in May after the trip, said Jean Riverin, spokesman for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The Massachusetts Public Health Department is trying to track down passengers who left Boston on May 5 for Montreal on a Greyhound-operated bus and may have been exposed to tuberculosis. The department does not want to take any chance and want to screen the passengers.
"It's a low-risk situation," said Alfred DeMaria, DPH chief medical officer. "Because of the (Andrew) Speaker case everyone's vision of it is as some dramatic event." The strain of tuberculosis the man is suffering from is not drug-resistant and the risk of further infections was small.
Dr. Al DeMaria, director of communicable disease control for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said that these notifications are issued as a precautionary measure. The drivers of the bus have been tested and cleared of the disease. "We almost never find anyone with infection as a result," he said. "There's nothing about this case that suggests he's highly infectious or has a rare kind of tuberculosis,"
"The amount of time you may be exposed to someone may be a factor. Other factors play into the role of how infectious this person was," said Dr. Cort Lohff, Vermont's epidemiologist.
Andrew speaker's case caused a scare earlier this year but unlike this one the bay man TB is not drug resistant. The patient tested negative for the two severe forms of tuberculosis, XDR and MDR-TB.
DPH investigates six to 12 TB cases a year, and the agency tracks each one aggressively.