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posted on August 12, 2008
Published: November 28, 2007
Source: The Associated Press
Tests of hundreds of airline passengers show that no one caught tuberculosis while flying with an infected American man earlier this year.
Andrew Speaker caused an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding while sick with tuberculosis.
Preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show about 250 passengers aboard the same Air France flight on May 12 have been tested for the disease.
None, including 25 passengers sitting nearest to Speaker, appears to have been infected during the flight. Canadian health officials, who were responsible for investigating Speaker's return flight from the Czech Republic to Montreal on May 24, also found no evidence Speaker spread the disease.
The Public Health Agency of Canada focused on the 29 passengers seated closest to the Atlanta lawyer on the Czech Air flight. "We are six months out now from the time of exposure, and there still continues to be no evidence of transmission," said Dr. Tom Wong, director of the community-acquired infections division of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
"I'm relieved that the results came back that way," Speaker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper on Tuesday. He also said he hopes the test results give "a sense of peace and closure for the people who may have been concerned."
Speaker became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar in May when he went ahead with the wedding trip after health officials said they had advised him not to fly.
CDC officials confirmed with him while he was already in Europe that tests indicated he had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; later tests found only the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.
Rather than check in to a European hospital, Speaker flew to Canada, drove across the border and turned himself in at a U.S. hospital. For a few days, he held the designation as the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963.
He was later transferred to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. He was released in July after successfully completing inpatient treatment, and he returned to Georgia.
"I feel like I've always felt," Speaker said. "I feel fine."