Maryland doctors say the patient with a super TB strain they’re currently treating at the National Institutes of Health may have come into contact with hundreds of people before being diagnosed with the drug resistant form of tuberculosis.
"The patient is staying in an isolation room in the NIH Clinical Center specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections," a hospital spokesperson said.
In the meantime, an international effort launched by the CDC to track down anyone who might have had direct and “prolonged” contact with the symptomatic woman is also underway.
The unidentified female took ill this spring upon returning to the United States from abroad and was quarantined at the NIH’s Bethesda facility over the weekend, once authorities realized she had the super TB strain dubbed XDR-TB.
Tuberculosis, a disease transmitted by airborne mucus droplets, reached pandemic proportions by the early 20th-century but was brought under control in the decades since, until it reemerged in a more virulent form in the mid 1980s, mainly due to HIV.
Globally, the killer pathogen slays well over a million victims per year, and the "extensively drug-resistant" version of it now landing in the heart of America is cause for genuine concern.
"NIH is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of all concerned,” officials for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- a division of the National Institutes for Health -- vowed in their latest press release.
According to the New York Times, NIAID’s gravely ill patient is known to have traveled from India to Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois, before being admitted on Friday to the Maryland hospital where she is presently in stable condition.