Tests: No passengers got TB from lawyer
Tests of hundreds of airline passengers show that no one caught tuberculosis while flying earlier this year with an infected man who caused an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding.
About 250 U.S. passengers aboard a May 12 Air France flight from Atlanta to Paris have been tested for tuberculosis, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. None — including 25 sitting nearest to TB patient Andrew Speaker — appear to have been infected during the flight.
Canadian health officials, who were responsible for investigating Speaker's return flight from Prague, Czech Republic, to Montreal on May 24, also found no evidence Speaker, an Atlanta attorney, spread the disease.
"We are six months out now from the time of exposure and there still continues to be no evidence of transmission," said Dr. Tom Wong, director of the community acquired infections division of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The Canadian agency focused on the 29 passengers seated closest to Speaker on the Czech Air flight, Wong said.
"I'm relieved that the results came back that way," Speaker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.
Speaker also said he hopes the test results give "a sense of peace and closure for the people who may have been concerned."
Speaker became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar in May when he went ahead with the wedding trip after health officials said they had advised him not to fly. CDC officials notified him while he was there that tests indicated he had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; later tests found only the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.
Rather than check into a European hospital, Speaker flew to Canada, drove across the border and turned himself in at a U.S. hospital. For a few days, he held the designation as the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963. He was later transferred to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. He was released from the hospital in July after successfully completing inpatient treatment and returned to Georgia.
"I feel like I've always felt," Speaker said Tuesday. "I feel fine."
What we do in life echoes in eternity.