Denver to host special tuberculosis patient who flew home on commercial airlines

Posted on May 31, 2007

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A man from Atlanta has extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB), and he’s coming to Denver’s National Jewish Medical Center, one of the foremost authority on respiratory diseases in the world. No problem, and it’s almost certainly not the first time that National Jewish has receieved a special respiratory illness for treatment.

No, my problem is that this… individual (extensive swearing removed)… was told by the Centers for Disease Control not to fly home from Rome on a commercial airliner, was put onto the no-fly list so that he couldn’t fly directly into the U.S. and potentially infect an entire airplane (or multiple airplanes), airports, etc. with XDR TB, was asked to check himself into a Rome hospital to be isolated so he couldn’t give anyone else his XDR TB, and yet he flew from Rome to Prague to Montreal (all on commercial airlines, of course) and then rented a car and drove across the border and checked into a hospital in New York.

His reason? He said “he feared that if he stayed in Rome, he would die there.” (source: The Denver Post quoting the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

So, even though he showed no symptoms and the liklihood that he was contagious was low, he disobeyed the CDC and snuck back into the United States, exposing at least two airlines, three airports, and a car rental outfit to XDR TB.

I can’t even fathom the self-absorption and willful disregard for the health and safety of others that this man has. He should have checked into a hospital in Rome, and if that meant he would die in Rome, so be it. Dying away from your home is a far, far more honorable thing than infecting even one other person with something as nasty as XDR TB.

And he’s bitching that he had an armed guard outside his isolation room in Atlanta….

Dude, shut the hell up – if I’d been on one of those planes or at the rental car desk, I’d want your head on a platter. And if anyone – anyone – is found to have been infected with XDR TB because of you, I hope that they (or their next of kin) bring criminal charges against you and lock you up for what you did.

UPDATE: Bloomberg.com is reporting that there will be a House hearing on this issue in June 6 and that the Border Patrol had orders to detain Andrew Speaker, the individual with XDR TB, at the crossing between Canada and New York. One of the things the hearing will look into is how the Border Patrol missed Mr. Speaker when he and his wife crossed the border (too few agents on the northern border because they’ve all been moved to the Mexican border perhaps….)

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