the city chicken


XDR TB, you and me, and a dose of reality
06 4 2007, 11:47 am
Filed under: current events, rants

This morning there was a poll at MSNBC.com; Should TB Patient Be Charged For Putting Other People At Risk?. As of 10:45 am (EST) 65% of respondents saying Yes, Andrew Speaker should be “charged”.

First of all, regarding his first flight to Europe from the US only, what are “they” going to charge Speaker with exactly? I am not an encyclopedia of laws but Speaker wasn’t told not to travel and wasn’t detained by any authorities before traveling. Additionally, a slew of other people could just as easily be held responsible or partially responsible for what happened here. Was it a smart decision to travel? Clearly it wasn’t but I don’t see a very strong legal case coming out of any of this.

Next – I am glad this story came out, but I am angry with how the public has reacted. A major point about TB has been totally overlooked. TB is a reality, a fear, that hundreds of thousands of people deal with daily. So why does the average american rarely hear about TB? Because it is an illness of ghosts; the ill in overcrowded hospitals in third world countries, prisoners, orphans, AIDS patients… the people of the world that we either do not want around or we have given up on. These are people who don’t have the means to travel to another country to have their wedding; they don’t even have the means to escape the air that carries the virus that could kill them. And when they do catch the virus – drug resistant or not – are they able to find or afford treatment? It is happening every single day and yet when one wealthy white man gets on a plane and puts less than a fraction of the worlds population at a ridiculously small risk, people are ready to condemn him.

No, I don’t agree with Speakers decision to travel and yes, if I were on the same plane as him, I would be angry. But I would be a whole lot angrier if I were confined to a place where I was actually likely to catch TB, with no way to escape, and no government agency caring whether I caught the disease or not, no one to care whether I lived or died….  

Just a little perspective….

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Clearly he could be charged with reckless endangerment; they managed to lock up Typhoid Mary I don’t see how his situation is much different. However, that’s not really the point.

The thing is, that this whole story has done a lot of good because it has made people more aware of the existence of XDR-TB and the fact that Tuberculosis still exists and still kills people.

Comment by JKS

Reckless endangerment or any other charge… I would happily take his case 🙂

Comment by city chick




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