Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Jackass with Highly Drug Resistant TB or Andrew Speaker: Patient Zero

This story is incredulous. Let's start here:
Speaker said in a newspaper interview that he knew he had TB when he flew from Atlanta to Europe in mid-May for his wedding and honeymoon, but that he did not find out until he was already in Rome that it was an extensively drug-resistant strain considered especially dangerous.
You're joking, right? Well, shoot, if it were just regular TB, it's perfectly fine to trot across the globe and infect people?
Speaker's tuberculosis was discovered when he had a chest X-ray in January for a rib injury, Huitt said.
Gee, I could understand the confusion. The guy only knew he had the disease 5 months before his trip.

The saddest part of the story is that his new father-in-law, Robert C. Cooksey, works for the CDC AND deals directly with TB issues! First, how does the father-in-law not know his son-in-law has a highly infectious disease? Second, if the father-in-law did know about his son-in-law's infection, how did he allow him to travel? Highly suspect that: "Cooksey would not comment on whether he reported his son-in-law to federal health authorities." Then again, it's also telling when this is stated:
``I'm hoping and praying that he's getting the proper treatment, that my daughter is holding up mentally and physically,'' Cooksey said. ``Had I known that my daughter was in any risk, I would not allow her to travel.''
Maybe I'm reading into that too closely or maybe a full quote wasn't given by the press, but there doesn't seem to be too much concern for the son-in-law. That said, this is directly from the CDC website:
If you are infectious while you are at home, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and others near you. Your doctor may tell you to follow these guidelines to protect yourself and others:
*Do not go to work or school. Separate yourself from others and avoid close contact with anyone. Sleep in a bedroom away from other family members.
Seems pretty self explanatory that extensive travel across the globe and sharing confined spaces like an airliner and hotel rooms would be out of the question. I know some people might bring up the fact that this man may have been on a regimen of medicine and he could have been cleared to travel. Seems highly unlikely considering his specific TB bug is so drug resistant. I would hope the health care officials involved would have narrowed that down in the 5 months that it was known about this TB infection. According to WaPo article, he knew we wasn't supposed to travel:
officials said the man had recently been diagnosed with TB and knew he should not travel when he left the United States on May 12.

After testing revealed his tuberculosis was extensively drug-resistant, he was contacted in Europe by health authorities and told not to take a commercial flight home -- advice he ignored.
I understand the need to stand up for your family and for your children, but when the actual father states:
Speaker's father told WSB-TV: ``The way he's been shown and spoken about on TV, it's like a terrorist traveling around the world escaping authorities. It's blown out of proportion immensely.''
That makes you an equal jackass! He was trying to escape and evade authorities!
Despite warnings from federal health officials not to board another long flight, he flew home for treatment, fearing he wouldn't survive if he didn't reach the U.S., he said. He said he tried to sneak home by way of Canada instead of flying directly into the U.S.
And that brings us lastly to the dipshit border agent who cleared the jackass to continue traveling:
The inspector ran Speaker's passport through a computer, and a warning - including instructions to hold the traveler, don a protective mask in dealing with him, and telephone health authorities - popped up, officials said. About a minute later, Speaker was instead cleared to continue on his journey, according to officials familiar with the records.

The Homeland Security Department is investigating.

The border officer ``who questioned that person is at present performing administrative duties,'' said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke, adding that the officer is not checking people at the land border crossing.

Colleen Kelley, president of the union that represents customs and border agents, declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said ``public health issues were not receiving adequate attention and training'' within the agency.
I would think the people who came in contact with this traveling jackass could sue the hell out of the dipshit who didn't do his job. You get a notice to detain a traveler and notify health officials and you don't even call you supervisor?! And you work for the Department of Homeland Security?! Really?!

This whole story has too much gross negligence and idiocy to go around. The worst part is that the rampant stupidity could massively affect the well being of the greater population. Survival of the fittest is working in quasi-reverse here when one moronic host can potentially knock out a larger population. Best quote: "The unidentified inspector explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy". Well, he's not a doctor and apparently not a competent inspector either. It's disgusting that the guy still has job and is still working even if he, "is at present performing administrative duties". Does "accountability" not mean anything anymore?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to finally find a blog telling what someone thinks of the audacity of this Speaker person.

Yes, he acted incredibly selfishly and with such stupidity, not seeing the big picture of it all: he can infect others by his panicky fleeing in order to save his own oily, divorce lawyer self.

But, when I think about this from his perspective--the revelation of his identity seems to be the most personally devastating, for him. Given that he's asymptomatic and his mucus shows no bacteria, now what he should be worried about is people sending him death threats and egging his house and whatnot. Not to mention the effect this will have on his career and even the entire law firm. People would think twice about entering that building now, wouldn't they? I feel sorry for the guy, for these reasons. His life will be hell--at least for a while.

BTW, if you visit that law firm's web site at,
you'll see that the pictures have been removed from the lawyers' profiles.

The lesson to be taken away from all this mess: whether you get married in your backyard or on a beautiful Greek island against the backdrop of the Aegean sea, you'll still end up with the desired result: married to your fiance/fiancee. All y'all people with Cinderella wedding fantasies--use that money as down payment for a house. Or f**k, start saving for your retirement.

- From a future bride who's had it up to here w/ spoiled brides & grooms

Fri Jun 01, 12:08:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Steve said...

Fleeing to save his life? According to the World Health Organization's World Health Systems ranking, the guy couldn't have been in better hands! France and Italy place 1st and 2nd respectively with Greece in 11th and the U.S. at 37th.

And tough shit about this guy's name going public. He should have thought about that before he put the health of numerous countries at risk. And I have to say shame on his law firm (his father's by the way) for hiring the guy. If he can have such a horrid lapse in judgment to pull this stunt, he has to be lacking in many moral and ethical departments. I can't feel sorry for that guy. ESPECIALLY since his father-in-law works for the CDC with TB.

The guy is an idiot. Reap what you sow...

Fri Jun 01, 12:35:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Bruce said...

I agree, - a jackass dipshit. But what should we expect from a lawyer?

Fri Jun 01, 02:58:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Khatie said...

Sounds like the border control guard had $ome motivation to let $peaker $lip through.

Fri Jun 01, 10:21:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the end, we'll come to see that this story, like so many others was again over-blown bullshit. "The CDC is attempting to contact those that came in contact with Speaker".......more bullshit. Attempting? Ridiculous. I don't know the guy, or couldn't care less, but believe me, this is another attempt to sensationalize something that in the end will be minimal at best.

Fri Jun 01, 10:47:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Andrew Speaker is guilty of, when all the facts are considered, is basically attempted murder.

He is an attorney and he knew damn well what he was doing is flatly wrong.

However, the nice thing about this is that of all the risk profiles (previous TB that was not properly treated, being in places where it is prevalent, being in prison, weakened immune system, and having AIDS…), the only one that would likely fit him is that he has AIDS (that may not have been tested for yet).

Even without AIDs, his chance of recovery is at best 30%.

Let’s hope he die a slow, painful death in Denver.

Scum bag lawyer that should have known better.

Fri Jun 01, 02:28:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In one way I can sort of understand where he was coming from. He was told he wasn't very contagious. He had this awesome trip planned for his own wedding, which he didn't want to miss or postpone. Then when he was in Italy they told him he couldn't come back to the US, which probably panicked him, thinking maybe he would never get back home (it would panic me).

That said, Andrew Speaker is one heck of an arrogant jerk. He knew for months that he had TB and had plenty of time to postpone the trip. He knew he really shouldn't be exposing others, even if the risk was small. Since it wasn't a life or death trip, he should have spared the public and stayed home. I get the feeling that he thinks HIS TB is somehow more high class than somebody else's TB.

If somebody else had done what he did, he'd be happy to sue their pants off.

Fri Jun 01, 03:07:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Steve said...

IRT Anonymous: this is another attempt to sensationalize something that in the end will be minimal at best.

Fri Jun 01, 10:47:00 AM 2007

What's sad is that you're probably right. Forget the fact for a second that this ass hat put the general population at risk. The bigger picture is that a DHS inspector had an order to stop a suspect and contact authorities... but didn't! If speaker had a beard and was wearing robes, I bet he would have been stopped.

For a union rep to come out and state: "``public health issues were not receiving adequate attention and training', is just utter horseshit. A simple plain directive to stop the person and contact health authorities was ignored. What does that have to do with training? The order is stop a person, sooooooo... maybe you should stop them?

It still hasn't been described whether or not the inspector reported seeing the alert or if his superiors tracked Speaker to that inspector's station.

All this money dumped into eye candy comfort at airports and borders and some jerk can still slip through. I'll pose this hypothetical: If someone is willing to suicide bomb themselves, why wouldn't they inject themselves with a highly contagious, infectious disease and do just what Speaker did?

Fri Jun 01, 04:27:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Debaser said...

Well, if you're a divorce lawyer in the USA, then you probably have the very best health care in the world. Those rankings weigh a lot on accessibility, which wasn't an issue for this guy.

I think it was stupid for him to have left. I think it was equally as stupid for him to come back the way he did. Certainly he could've chartered a private plane or something.

Sat Jun 02, 12:19:00 AM 2007  

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