Recent TB case reveals gaps in pandemic response and preparedness
| 06.01.2007 | 08:20:17 | Views: 2880 | ID:
June 1 '07: Over the last week, a 31-year old Atlanta man infected with a rare strain of tuberculosis resistant to almost all forms of medication traveled from the U.S. to Europe and back again potentially infecting dozens of people with the deadly virus while American and European health officials failed to share critical information about his whereabouts, and exposed gaps in international pandemic response and preparendess the International Herald Tribune and other news sources reported.
In the U.S., the Associated Press reported that border agents allowed the man, Andrew Speaker to re-enter the country from Canada though his passport was flagged in federal databases.According to the AP, after running Speaker's passport, a warning flashed the computer screen telling the border agent to detain the man and "don protective gear," however the border agent later said he thought the warning was "discretionary". Reuters reported that since his return to the U.S., subsequent quarantine and relocation to a specialized medical facility in Denver, Speaker has apologized to those who he exposed while flying back to the U.S.. "I'm very sorry for any grief or pain that I have caused anyone," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America." In light of recent events, CNN reported that Homeland Security Committee, Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) "has scheduled a hearing for next week." Thompson said "We had two agencies that should have been in constant communication with each other, and obviously the system failed. ... Mr. Speaker should not have been able to get into Canada and back into the United State undetected. Our system did not work. ... There are a number of vulnerabilities that this situation has brought to our attention that we will look for in the committee hearing. ... This hearing will be designed to look at what happened, look at what was supposed to have happened, and try to fix it." The International Herald Tribune reported that American health officials had warned Speaker against traveling, but according to the paper, once in Italy, U.S. officials "did not reveal the man's presence to the Italian authorities - or to the World Health Organization in Geneva - until May 24, about the time he left Italy."
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