US tuberculosis patient moved to Denver hospital

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

A United States man, identified recently as 31-year-old Andrew Speaker from Fulton County, Georgia, has left Grady Memorial Hospital. Officials have confirmed that he was transported on a chartered Learjet overnight to Denver, Colorado. He is now at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, which specializes in respiratory, immune system, and allergy research and treatment.

The National Jewish Medical and Research Center was founded in 1899 to treat tuberculosis, and is today considered one of the world's best medical research and treatment centers. It is a non-sectarian institution but received funding from B'nai B'rith until the 1950s.

Meanwhile, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the complete itinerary of the patient, who travelled to Europe while infected with extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

Speaker, an Atlanta-based lawyer, travelled on the following flights, according to the CDC:

Airlines Flight# Date Departing Scheduled Departure Calculated Scheduled Duration Arriving Number of Passengers Patient Seat Row Number
Air France / Delta 385 / 8517 5/12/2007 Atlanta, Georgia 8:45 PM Local 8 Hr 27 Min Paris, France 433 30
Air France 1232 5/14/2007 Paris, France 7:35 AM Local 3 Hr 11 Min Athens, Greece unknown unknown
Olympic Air 560 5/16/2007 Athens, Greece 7:25 PM Local 0 Hr 40 Min Thira Island, Greece unknown unknown
Olympic Air 655 5/21/2007 Mykonos Island, Greece 1:45 PM Local 0 Hr 40 Min Athens, Greece unknown unknown
Olympic Air 239 5/21/2007 Athens, Greece 5:30 PM Local 2 Hr 05 Min Rome, Italy unknown unknown
Czech Airlines 727 5/24/2007 Rome, Italy 8:50 AM Local 1 Hr 55 Min Prague, Czech Republic unknown unknown
Czech Airlines 0104 5/24/2007 Prague, Czech Republic 12:25 PM Local 8 Hr 25 Min Montreal, Canada 191 12

US Homeland Security has said it will launch an investigation into CDC officials' handling of this case, which has created an international health incident. The investigation will look into whether the man should have been placed in quarantine and under guard before he had the opportunity to fly to Europe.

Speaker was put on a no-fly list and had his passport flagged. Nevertheless, he still managed to fly to Canada and then drive a car across the border into the United States. A border agent, who has since been suspended from duty, ignored a warning on his computer to put on protective gear and detain Speaker.

Speaker's father-in-law, Bob Cooksey, is a 32-year veteran of the CDC, where he works in the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. In a statement issued through the CDC, Cooksey said that although he routinely works with infectious organisms including TB, he was not the cause of his son-in-law's TB.

"As part of my job, I am regularly tested for TB. I do not have TB, nor have I ever had TB," said Cooksey. "My son-in-law's TB did not originate from myself or the CDC's labs, which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity."

CDC phone number for public inquiries

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The public inquiry number is 1-800-CDC-INFO