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Valley-Bound US Airways Plane Experiences Tuberculosis Scare

County health officials say it could take up to a week to find out if an airline passenger has tuberculosis. The man was on a flight from Austin to Phoenix on Saturday when Texas health authorities notified federal officials that a passenger on the flight might have TB. Local officials said the risk of infection is very low.


When the plane landed, the suspect passenger was escorted off, and passengers were told they might have been exposed to tuberculosis. Now, county health officials said that is unlikely. According to local authorities, the Centers for Disease Control protocol says if passengers were exposed to an active TB case, they would they be contacted only if the flight lasted more than 8 hours.

The two and a half hour flight from Austin does not meet that threshold according to Dr. Rebecca Suneneshine with Maricopa County Health.

"So there would not be an attempt to reach out to the passengers on the plane. I can further assure people who flew on the plane that this individual was not coughing and that means there is a much lower likelihood that if he does have active TB that he would have passed it onto others," Suneneshine said.

She said tuberculosis is relatively rare in the United States and most cases in Maricopa County involve people who have been outside the country or have come in contact with someone who has traveled outside the United States.

KJZZ’s News Director Al Macias is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.Macias helps oversee daily operations for the KJZZ newsroom and Fronteras: the Changing America Desk. This is second nature for Macias, who is a National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Society member and an inductee of the Society of Professional Journalists Order of the Silver Key Society.Macias began serving the KJZZ news team in October 2010, helping the station launch Fronteras: The Changing America Desk as the project's managing editor. He became the news director in January 2015. Macias, who has an extensive television background, is helping Fronteras Desk reporters disseminate reports using a multimedia platform that includes radio, web, video and social media tools to engage listeners across the globe.He also is no stranger to building a news team from the ground up. Macias was part of the management team that launched the KNXV newsroom in 1994 and oversaw its growth from a staff of twenty to more than sixty in less than a year. Additionally, he served in managerial roles at KPNX from 1981-1994 and as an assignment editor and manager for KTVK.During his television career, Macias won two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards for spot news coverage and public service programming.Macias takes great pride in his public service work, as well. He is a founding board member of the Arizona Latino Media Association and is part of the Raul H. Castro Institute Advisory Committee. In addition, he served Maricopa County’s communications department and spent time as a Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau.A Phoenix native, Macias earned a journalism degree from Arizona State University. He has been married since 1978 and has two adult daughters.