TB patient at Stanford Hospital is improving


A 30-year-old Sunnyvale woman being treated at Stanford Hospital for a multi-drug resistant strain of tuberculosis is improving and in stable condition, hospital spokeswoman Barbara Bickerman said today.

The woman's illness set off nationwide search for people who were on the same flight when she flew from India to Chicago. She then flew to San Francisco on Dec. 13.

She later was admitted to Stanford Hospital. Forty four fellow passengers were located in 16 states.

Multi-drug resistant TB is a form of the respiratory bacteria that is no longer treatable by some antibiotics.

But the illness can still be treated, according to Santa Clara County Health Officer Marty Fenstersheib said. "Treatment may take a lot longer, and the drugs may have some additional side effects," he said.

TB is contagious only if an individual has active symptoms. And fellow airline passengers only need to be concerned if they shared a flight eight hours or longer with someone with active symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.


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Posted by pete
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Make sure she pays for all tracking and medical expenses for everyone involved in this case.

Once discharged she should be prosecuted and jailed and then deported, if possible, for this horrendous crime.

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2008 at 6:02 pm

I understand your reaction, but we don't have any details - the case may be nothing like that lawyer who KNEW he had TB and flew anyway. We shouldn't jump to conclusions. She may not have known she had TB until she was admitted to the hospital.

Doctors in this area don't see a lot of TB anymore, it's possible she even went to the doctor before her hospitalization and went undiagnosed. It is very common to come back from China and India with respiratory problems, the vast majority are not TB.

I hear there is a vaccine for TB, widely used in Europe. I wonder about its efficacy at preventing multi-drug resistant strain infection? (I wonder could it be used in the case of exposure to prevent the development of infection?)

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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2008 at 6:47 pm

There is a vaccine for TB which has been used for decades in Britain and Ireland at least. The biggest problem is that after you have the vaccine, you test false positive for all TB tests and the only way to disprove you have TB is a chest xray. It is for this reason that when I was getting my green card I had to have an xray. This was an added problem to getting my green card as I was pregnant at the time and reluctant to get the xray.

Testing for TB is therefore a very onerous task. The two methods, the skin test (which takes 3 days and has to be given and read by a medical professional) and the chest xray. Both of these are time consuming and can be costly. Perhaps a better form of TB testing, such as some form of breathalyzer would be a good idea. However, I am no medical expert and this may not be possible.

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Posted by Indian
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

The lady knew she had TB; she was under treatment while in India. Like Brit mentioned, the TB vaccine has been used for decades in India (resulting in false positive tests in the USA). However this vaccine is not fool proof. There still are cases of TB even after getting innoculated -- most of these cases are treatable.

In this particular case, the lady needs to face some charge / community service /probation. She knew she had a highly contagious disease, yet she boarded a flight and put the others at risk. There needs to be some accountability in this case.

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Posted by janette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2008 at 4:59 am

What do you mean deported? Why do you assume that everyone who does something you don't like is not a citizen?

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2008 at 8:14 pm

In addition to risking so many people and the worry she caused to the travelers, my concern is that the tax payer is paying for all her medical care. I haven't read any where that she is insured or able to get coverage for all her extensive and expensive care. I hope the tax payer is not paying and I send well wishes to everyone involved.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Imagine, for a minute, that an American businessperson, born and bred in this country, had to go to India for a series of business meetings. I am sure that this happens a lot. While they are there, they meet many local people. Some of these local people are the business people that they have to have meetings with. Some of these local people would be working in the hotels and restaurants, driving the taxis, working at the airport, etc. etc. that the average business person would meet on a business trip. Imagine even further that this business person got sick. What would that imaginery person do. I expect a trip to a local doctor at a local hospital would be one of the first things to do. The next thing is that this person would want to return home to family and the kind of medical care they would expect at home.

I have no idea if this scenario is anything like what happened to the TB patient being discussed here. However, since we know so little information on who she is, a little realistic role play is in order.

My sympathies go to the patient and I hope she recovers fully. My sympathy also to her family, friends, and those on the plane or wherever who have been in contact with her. I feel sure that some type of repercussions will come on her, but I doubt if she had any intent to really pass on her illness to anyone.

Please think before you speak. And, I am with Janette, do not assume that this is something it may not be. You may say I am assuming what I have suggested, but sometimes the truth is not as sinister as everyone initially makes out.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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