TB patient does not have most dangerous form
WASHINGTON- The U.S. tuberculosis patient who was legally isolated after fleeing across international borders does not have the most dangerous form of TB but instead a strain that is easier to treat, his doctors said on Tuesday. They said that Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old lawyer, has multi-drug-resistant TB, not the extensively drug-resistant disease.
“Laboratory tests conducted at National Jewish Medical and Research Center indicate that patient Andrew Speaker’s tuberculosis is susceptible to some of the medications previously thought ineffective against his disease,” the hospital in Denver said in a statement.
“As a result, doctors have altered Mr. Speaker’s antibiotic regimen and have put on hold a decision about lung surgery.”
Health officials in several countries have been tracking down anyone who sat near Speaker on two long-distance flights because of the risk they could have contracted the extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB from him.
Multiple drug-resistant TB is also a serious disease, health experts note. But XDR TB is considered worse because it resists all but a very few antibiotics, and a third of patients who get it die.
“These new test results are good news for Mr. Speaker. His prognosis has improved,” said Dr. Charles Daley, Head of the Infectious Disease Division at the Denver hospital where Speaker is being treated under an isolation order.
“Because of his newly determined drug susceptibility, we now have more effective medications available to fight his disease and may be able to treat him successfully without surgery.”
Speaker became the first person to be isolated under U.S. federal order in 44 years when he fled officials trying to stop him from traveling on his wedding and honeymoon in Greece and Italy. He sneaked across the U.S. border from Canada to evade the officials.
…Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old attorney, stands next to his bride Sarah Cooksey during their wedding ceremony on the Greek island of Santorini May 18, 2007.