Tuberculosis Patient Identified

5-31-07

ATLANTA (AP) - A tuberculosis patient under the first federal quarantine since 1963 has arrived in Denver after leaving an Atlanta hospital this morning.

The 31-year-old Georgia man arrived at Denver National Jewish Hospital at about 8 a.m. Colorado time. The facility specializes in respiratory disorders.

He had been quarantined at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

A federal law enforcement official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to talk about the case, identified the patient as Andrew Speaker, an attorney from Atlanta.

A spokesman for the hospital said he walked in wearing a mask and told staffers he felt fine. He had flown to the hospital with his wife and federal marshals.

Spokesman William Allstetter said doctors will begin treating him today with two antibiotics, one oral and one intravenous.

He will undergo a basic physical exam, a test to evaluate how infectious he is and a CT scan and lung X-ray.

Doctors also hope to determine where he contracted the disease.

He will be kept in a special unit with two rooms and a special ventilation system. Allstetter said he may not leave that room much for several weeks.

The man knew he had TB when he flew from Atlanta to Europe in mid-May for his wedding and honeymoon, but he didn't learn until he was already there that it was an extensively drug-resistant strain considered especially dangerous.

Despite warning from federal health officials not to board another long flight, the man flew home for treatment.

Health officials in North America and Europe are trying to track down about 80 passengers who sat near him on the two trans-Atlantic flights, and they want passenger lists from four shorter flights the man took while in Europe. Patients on the shorter flights are not expected to be as much at risk, health officials said.

Among those being tested are more than two dozen University of South Carolina Aiken students, school spokeswoman Jennifer Lake said Thursday. Two were apparently sitting near the man, possibly on the same row, she said.


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