A Mexican man infected with a highly contagious form of tuberculosis was able to cross into the United States 76 times and fly on multiple domestic flights, reports The Washington Times.
According to Customs and Border Protection workers and documents:
[The] agency was warned by health officials on April 16 that the frequent traveler was infected, but it took the Homeland Security officials more than six weeks to issue a May 31 alert to warn its own border inspectors, according to Homeland Security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Homeland Security took one more week to tell its own Transportation Security Agency.
A spokesman for the El Paso CBP explained the warning to its border inspectors to be on the lookout for the infected man was delayed because he used an alias.
The identified traveler, Amado Isidro Armendariz Amaya, has Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which does not respond to the two most popular drugs used to fight tuberculosis.
While a CDC physician said travelers that may have flown with Mr. Armendariz need not worry because the CDC only warns passengers on a flight eight hours or longer that they could be infected, other physicians contacted by the paper said the disease could be transmitted within minutes.
This isn't the first time a man with MDR-TB has eluded the CBP. This spring, Andrew Speaker set off an international crisis when he jet set through Europe while infected with MDR-TB. Fortunately, no one else was infected.
UPDATE: Congress will be investigating how the MDR-TB infected Mr. Armendariz could cross into the United States 76 times without interruption.
The Washington Times reports:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman, says he is "disturbed by the apparent poor coordination between [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Department of Homeland Security that allowed a Mexican citizen known to be infected with a highly drug-resistant form of TB to cross the Southern border 76 times and board an airplane without detection."