Tuberculosis Patient Treated in Denver
Treatment May Take Months; Patient Asks Forgiveness From His Fellow Fliers
WebMD News Archive
June 1, 2007 -- Andrew Speaker,
the Atlanta man at the center of a media storm after traveling overseas with
extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR), is being treated for his
tuberculosis at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research
XDR TB is an infectious disease
spread from person to person through the air. Unlike most tuberculosis cases,
XDR TB resists the first and second preferred drug treatments.
In a news conference, Gwen Huitt,
MD, who is one of the doctors treating Speaker, said Speaker is "doing very
well," continues to show no obvious symptoms of tuberculosis, is starting
to take new medications, and is even using an exercise bike in his isolation
Huitt reported "no
surprises" in Speaker's chest X-rays and CT scans taken last night and that
his tuberculosis continues to show a low likelihood of spreading easily to
In a separate CDC news conference,
CDC Director Julie Gerberding said that while the federal isolation order is
still in place for Speaker, she "wouldn't be surprised" if that order
is lifted "at some point in the future."
Patient's Fellow Travelers
Gerberding also updated reporters
on efforts to reach people on Speaker's recent transatlantic
Speaker, who is a 31-year-old
lawyer, and his bride recently flew from Atlanta to Paris and from Prague to
Montreal as part of their wedding and honeymoon.
Those flights are:
- Air France Flight 385: departed
Atlanta on May 12, arriving in Paris on May 13
- Czech Air Flight 0104: departed
Prague, Czech Republic, arriving in Montreal on May 24
Passengers likely to be at highest
risk for tuberculosis transmission during those flights were sitting in
Speaker's row and in the two rows in front or behind him, notes
Gerberding says the CDC has
been in touch with 74 U.S. citizens and residents on the Air France flight,
including all 26 passengers who were believed to be sitting in the high-risk
rows around Speaker's seat.
Canadian authorities have
identified the 28 passengers seated in the high-risk rows around Speaker on the
Czech air flight, says Gerberding.
Those passengers -- and anyone
else on those flights -- will be put in touch with local health officials in
their city or state for tuberculosis testing. Since tuberculosis grows slowly,
any initial tests that show tuberculosis would probably stem from infection
before the flights. For this reason, the CDC recommends that passengers
get follow-up tests in about two months, which will indicate whether or not any
of those travelers got tuberculosis on those flights.
Passengers on those flights may
call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO for information on tuberculosis
The bacterium that causes
tuberculosis usually doesn't make people sick. In most cases, the bacterium
stays inactive. But when it becomes active, it usually causes symptoms
including fever, night sweats, cough, appetite loss, weight loss, bloody
phlegm, and loss of energy.