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Thread: Your Thoughts- Andrew Speaker (TB Scare)

  1. #1

    Your Thoughts- Andrew Speaker (TB Scare)

    Some background on the story:

    Here is the strange part that adds to this story:

    "Speaker's father-in-law is a doctor at the Centers for Disease Control. Bob Cooksey is a microbiologist -- ironically, he specializes in the spread of tuberculosis.

    Cooksey did not take any questions when he made a statement to the media on Thursday afternoon.

    "First and foremost, I am concerned about the health and well-being of my son-in-law, and family, as well as the passengers on the affected flights," Cooksey said.

    Cooksey is a great source of international interest, not because his daughter married Speaker, but because of where he works, and what he does.

    "I do work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Cooksey said. "I have worked at CDC for 32 years. I am a research microbiologist in CDC's division of tuberculosis elimination."

  2. #2
    This guy is an arrogant jackass. I've had TB. It's an ugly disease and still kills millions worldwide. For this jerk to KNOW that he carries a highly contagious, deadly disease and to go globe hopping, endangering the lives of countless people is the height of hubris. He should be prosecuted for something. I bet his new wife is embarassed as Hel.


  3. #3
    Hel is a Norse goddess, C.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Le Type Français
    Hel is a Norse goddess
    Yes, she is and the land of her rule is named after her. I use the spelling "Hel" as opposed to "hell" because I believe in the former and not the latter. Consider it a harmelss affectation.


  5. #5
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Chicago IL
    TB aside...I'm interested in the coincidental father in law connection...just a coincidence they say....yeah

  6. #6
    Senior Member flicka's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy
    TB aside...I'm interested in the coincidental father in law connection...just a coincidence they say....yeah
    I agree. Too bizarre.

  7. #7
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Chicago IL
    Now I remember the name of the movie I was thinking of today reading about this a bit. Anyone ever see the movie 12 Monkeys?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy
    TB aside...I'm interested in the coincidental father in law connection...just a coincidence they say....yeah
    Not really, not if this guys lives in a major city and also travels quite a bit. I don't know anybody who works for the CDC and I somehow contracted TB. It's almost impossible to tell where most people pick it up, but since I've lived in both LA and Miami and I travel a fair amount, it's not too bizarre that I managed to acquire the bug. What's really amazing is that it doesn't appear that I infected anyone else once I became contagious. They say that this guy shows no overt symptoms and isn't coughing. I wonder why he was tested for TB in the first place. I got tested because I was literally hacking up a lung and had gone through two cycles of antibiotics with no abatement of my symptoms. When the labs came back, I had an extremely high colony count for TB bacteria and my chest X-ray was also pretty scary. When I met with the pulmonary specialist that my GP sent me to, the man was shocked that I was up and moving around and still highly functional. He told me that based on my X-rays and CT scans alone, he had expected to get called in to meet with a hospitalized patient.


  9. #9
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Somewhere - Out there
    The guy is a careless asshole that deserves to be sued into oblivion for his transgressions, whether or not he is jailed.

    PS - I imagine the father-in-law was PISSED. It was a wedding/honeymoon. His wife was exposed to that for weeks.

    PPS - 12 monkeys is one of my top 5 Sci-Fi movies of all time.

    -- JB

  10. #10
    Something is strange about this story. All of a sudden, this man is being called a "fugitive TB patient" because he was advised not to travel by his doctors. Amazingingly, the guy claims to have "tape recordings" to prove that he was only advised not to travel, not clearly forbidden to do so (Source). The Department of Homeland Security is investigating. There is an International Health Alert.

    I think that we should wait for more clarity of information before condeming the man and speculating about his father-in-law and CDC. There are open questions concerning when he knew that he had XDR (extensively drug resistant) TB, why his doctors did not put him immediately into isolation and under antibiotic therapy. Apparently, his doctors had contacted the Department of Homeland Security and Andrew Speaker's name was on the database available to all border control. The moment his passport was swiped, his name should have come up, even when crossing the border of Canada.
    Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said it is also not clear how Speaker evaded border controls. The CDC had notified Homeland Security about Speaker and asked that he be detained if he turned up.

    Knocke said all officers at all ports of entry into the United States had Speaker's name. "The information was in our system, so that the second a passport would have been swiped it would have popped (up)," Knocke said in a telephone interview.
    They apparently have identified and fired the border patrol officer who allowed Speaker to come back into the country:
    Border inspector removed from duty after allowing tuberculosis patient into US

    Associated Press - May 31, 2007 5:53 PM ET

    ATLANTA (AP) - A border guard who allowed the man currently quarantined at a hospital in Denver with tuberculosis back into the country has been removed from border duty.

    Officials say the unidentified inspector disregarded a computer warning to stop Andrew Speaker and put on protective gear. Instead, they say, he allowed Speaker to cross back into the country because Speaker seemed perfectly healthy.

    Speaker returned last week from his honeymoon in Europe and his new father-in-law is a Centers for Disease Control microbiologist specializing in TB and other bacteria.

    He was quarantined a day after he was allowed to enter the US through the border crossing at Champlain, New York, along the Canadian border.

    Doctors in Denver say Speaker is "doing extremely well." They say he is not coughing and does not have a fever.

    In my opinion, this case is being blown way out of proportion. I am not sure the United States is currently enforcing rules concerning travel of American citizens with infectious diseases. Does this mean that anybody who has tuberculosis is put on a database and cannot travel overseas or cannot return to the United States for treatment? I can't imagine this to be so. indicates that there are 18,361 annual cases of tuberculosis in the United States in 1998. In 1999, 17,531 cases were notified in the U.S.A. In Canada, the annual incidence is 5.5 per 100,000. Note that these are discovered new cases, not prevalence of the disease. In the case of latent tuberculosis, the prevalence is estimated to be 10-15 million people (Source) or a prevalence rate of 1 in 27 people, 3.68%.

    When I worked at Bellevue Hospital, the conversion rate from negative to postiive PPD amongst doctors and nursing staff was 15% per year! By the way, many of those cases were antibiotic resistant. That was in part because Bellevue took care of two very susceptible populations. In urban gay males with HIV, the incidence of tuberculosis may be as high as 15% although the generally cited world incidence of TB in people with HIV is 5.7% (Source). Amongst young homeless people in the United States, the incidence is 8.9% (Source). And, as I pointed out, doctors working with high risk populations can have a very high risk of getting the drug-resistant TB. So, are all these people forbidden to travel on airplanes. I sincerely doubt it.

    Regarding where Andrew Speaker could have caught the disease, it could be almost anywhere, including the United States. Countries that have particularly high prevalence of XDR include Russia, India, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Latin America, as suggested in this article from

    Increasing Human Toll Taken by Tuberculosis
    Every year, TB kills nearly two million people while an estimated nine million develop the disease. An additional 450,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB are seen every year. Kyrgyzstan, 2006 © Claude Mahoudeau/MSF

    While many people in the West consider tuberculosis (TB) a disease of a bygone era, the devastating human toll taken by the disease is increasing worldwide, particularly in developing countries with high HIV prevalence. Every year, TB kills nearly 2 million people while an estimated 9 million develop the disease. An additional 450,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB are seen every year. This frightening situation became even worse in 2006 when a survey among 544 TB patients in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, found 10percent had developed XDR TB, a strain of TB that is resistant to both first-line antibiotics as well as to two classes of second-line drugs. Almost all of these patients died, and the extent of the outbreak remains unknown.

    Even so, the drugs in today's standard TB treatment were developed in the 1950s and 1960s, while the most commonly used TB test — sputum microscopy — was developed in 1882 and only detects TB in half of the cases. Existing TB treatments and diagnostics are even less adapted for use in people living with HIV/AIDS, even though TB is their number one killer. The years of neglect are underscored by the fact that of the 1,556 new chemical entities marketed worldwide between 1975 and 2004, only 3 were for TB. Even though some initiatives are underway, efforts need to be significantly increased in order to respond to the disastrous impact of TB. None of the drugs currently in development, however promising, will be able to drastically improve TB treatment in the near future. "That TB destroys millions of lives around the world every year shows that the current approach is just not working," said Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Director of MSF's Campaign for the Access to Essential Medicines. "The tools we have to treat and diagnose TB are woefully inadequate and outdated, and we're not seeing the necessary urgency to tackle the disease."

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