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Quarantined TB Patient is Atlanta Lawyer

Posted May 31, 2007 5:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A 31-year-old lawyer from Atlanta is the "extensively drug-resistant" tuberculosis patient whose flight to Europe on commercial airlines, against medical advice, prompted the first federal quarantine order since 1963 last week.

Despite being the subject of a no-fly order, due to his potentially fatal disease, Andrew Speaker went to Europe to get married and returned last week. He was privately flown this morning to a Denver hospital for treatment. After being identified today by multiple law enforcement sources, he has apparently has not been available for comment, according to CNN.

Speaker earlier told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which did not identify him, that he had planned to be treated in Denver after his honeymoon in Europe. He said health officials knew about his travel plans beforehand and recommended against the trip. It was not until he was already there, however, that his particularly virulent form of the disease was diagnosed, CNN reports. While it is not easily transmitted, TB can be spread by coughing, sneezing -- even talking -- by a patient who has the infection in his or her lungs.

Speaker returned from Prague to Montreal, Canada, and then drove to the United States on May 24. A customs agent who let him into the country despite seeing his name pop up on a computerized check reportedly is on administrative leave while an investigation continues.

He practices law with his father at an Atlanta firm, notes the Wall Street Journal law blog. His specialty is personal injury and family law, adds Above the Law, which named Speaker "Lawyer of the Day."

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