Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TB Travelling Lawyer Man

Andrew Speaker, the 31-year-old Atlanta personal injury lawyer who thought his honeymoon was more important than other people's lives, isn't getting a good reception in the court of public opinion.

Newsweek reports that 50% to 70% of individuals who are infected with Andrew Speaker's bacterium are doomed, compared to only 5% who die from contracting regular tuberculosis. Speaker himself is young and healthy and has access to the best care available on the planet. But that is not the case with the hundreds of travellers who shared a limited amount of air with him on two trans-Atlantic flights.

Speaker claims that he is smear-negative, meaning that TB bacteria didn't show up on his sputum test. Sadly, it turns out that 20% of all TB patients contracted their illnesses from smear-negative individuals.

I am left wondering, how many people are as ethically challenged as Andrew Speaker? How many of us would have done the same thing he did? I imagine these lawyers would do the same as Andrew Speaker.

I wouldn't. Would you?

But the CDC is also at fault. They knew when they visited him in Italy that they were dealing with an incautious person. They should have told him they would fly him home. They should have known he wouldn't take financial responsibility for a private airplane trip home. It's their job to protect the health of the public, even if they have to dip into their budget reserves to do it.

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