US Tuberculosis Traveler Leaves Hospital

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 27 2007 8:20 PM

US Tuberculosis Traveler Leaves Hospital
A US lawyer who sparked a global health scare by crossing the Atlantic while infected with a potentially lethal tuberculosis strain emerged Thursday from weeks of hospital isolation, the clinic said.
The National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, discharged Andrew Speaker "after the successful completion of his in-patient treatment for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis," it said in a statement.

Speaker had been flown there eight weeks ago from his home town of Atlanta, Georgia, after health authorities seized him when he returned from the epic journey. Surgery on July 17 removed part of his lung.

Doctors said he had defied their warnings not to travel after being diagnosed with the disease.

After getting married in Greece and honeymooning in Italy, he had taken a series of flights to escape being committed to a clinic in Europe, eventually returning home via Canada.

"Mr. Speaker's physicians do not consider him completely cured yet, but his surgery and antibiotic treatment have eliminated any detectable evidence of infection, and he is noncontagious," the specialist center said.

He will continue to take antibiotics for about two years, closely watched by health workers.

"Although we believe there are still a few tuberculosis bacteria in his lungs, ongoing antibiotic therapy should kill those," said Gwen Huitt, head of the center's adult infectious disease care unit, quoted in the statement.

Seven Canadians and two Czechs who were passengers on flights taken by Speaker announced this month that they would sue him.

Though he is not contagious, Speaker returned home Thursday by air ambulance rather than commercial airline, "so as not to raise any undue public alarm," the statement said.


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