Officials removed a man with an unspecified infectious disease - possibly tuberculosis - from a US Airways Express flight with 70 passengers on board shortly after it landed in Phoenix over the weekend, authorities said on Monday.
The unidentified man was removed from Flight 2846 from Austin, Texas, when it landed on Saturday after the airline received an alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding a passenger known to have an infectious disease, a spokesman for the airline said.
The Transport Security Administration had not flagged the passenger as "do not fly" prior to the flight, although once in the air the CDC notified the airline that the passenger had "do not board" status, US Airways spokesman Bill McGlahsen said.
A document on the CDC's website said the do not board list is intended "to prevent persons who are contagious from boarding commercial aircraft." It mentioned pulmonary tuberculosis as one such communicable disease.
"After the flight left, the CDC notified the TSA who notified us," McGlahsen told Reuters. "We stopped short of the gate and then consulted with CDC and then we proceeded to the gate. That's where firefighters, paramedics met the flight," he added.
After the plane was stopped, some passengers reported that a firefighter announced over the intercom that everyone on board had been exposed to tuberculosis and should see their doctors immediately, The Arizona Republic newspaper reported on Monday.
McGlahsen could not comment on the passenger's medical condition. Calls to both the CDC and Maricopa County Public Health seeking details were not immediately returned on Monday.
Tuberculosis, which is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, was once the leading cause of death in the United States, the CDC said on its website.
The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, it can be fatal.