TB Patient Identified

andrew_speaker.jpg

Kevin found this picture of Andrew Speaker, the Atlanta lawyer who has been identified as the TB patient causing so much concern this week. Below are the latest updates from Channel 2 in Atlanta:

12:30 UPDATE: Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the TB patient is Andrew Speaker, 31, an Atlanta divorce lawyer.

9:35 UPDATE: The TB patient has arrived in Denver. The man’s air ambulance Lear Jet landed at Centennial Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Atlanta.

9:00 UPDATE: Channel 2 Action News confirms the patient was taken from Grady overnight.

8:30 UPDATE: ABC News reports the patient has left Grady Memorial Hospital and is being transferred to a hospital in Denver.Update: Fox reports that Speaker’s father-in-law is one of the leading TB researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The father-in-law of the 31-year-old man under federal quarantine with a rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis is one of the leading TB researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, FOX News has learned.

Dr. Robert Cooksey, who works in the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, confirmed to FOX News that he is the father-in-law of Andrew Speaker, a personal-injury lawyer who practices in his father’s law firm in Atlanta.

Asked by FOX News whether it was possible that he had passed along the dangerous strain to his son-in-law, Cooksey said, “Absolutely not.” He added that he “works in the lab” and “is not authorized to talk about that.”

Update II: ABC News’ Diane Sawyer interviewed Speaker, which will air tomorrow morning, but that’s not the big news. According to this ABC News article, Speaker has been walking around Atlanta with TB since January. How many people has he come into contact with? This from MedlinePlus:

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes or talks.

No one even knows how Speaker got TB to begin with; he could have picked it up anywhere. Could he have passed it on to others just as easily?

Andrew Speaker is a highly educated man, so he knew better than to fly on an airplane when he was infected with tuberculosis. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that you don’t put yourself in an enclosed space with hundreds of other unsuspecting people for hours at a time when you have an infectious airborne illness like TB, drug resistant or not. Also, according to Fox News, Mr. Speaker is a personal injury lawyer, which means that he understood the legal concept of negligence. If anyone on any of those flights comes down with TB, he will find himself the defendant in a very expensive law suit.

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