CDC Criticized About Handling of Recent TB Cases
CDC's management of the case of Andrew Speaker "was so unusual that it has raised questions" among tuberculosis specialists about "whether CDC publicized Speaker's case in a quest for more money," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Young, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/13).
Speaker, an Atlanta attorney with multi-drug resistant TB, in May 2007 traveled to Europe by airplane despite CDC recommendations to cancel the trip and re-entered the U.S. at the Canadian border despite an advisory that called for his detainment by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers (California Healthline, 11/29/07).
About five months before CDC made Speaker the "unwitting poster boy" for drug-resistant TB, the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis at CDC at a December 2006 meeting considered "drastic actions" to "get more funding by publicizing the deadly strain of the disease," the Journal-Constitution reports.
CDC advisers recommended a potential focus on increased awareness of the need to prevent extensively drug-resistant TB. Five months later, a CDC laboratory diagnosed Speaker with XDR-TB, and the agency "issued a federal isolation order -- its first in more than 40 years" and conducted a national press briefing about how Speaker might have spread the disease on international flights, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Tests later at a Denver hospital found that Speaker had MDR-TB, a more treatable form of the disease. According to the Journal-Constitution, the CDC "actions were in stark contrast to the private way the agency dealt" with other potential TB cases that involved airline passengers. CDC officials have denied any reported link between efforts to increase funds and the management of the Speaker case (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/13).