Tonight, there are so many unanswered questions about Andrew Speaker and his rare case of XDR TB. I honestly thought the story was coming to a close; instead it became even more bizarre. His father-in-law, who was also on the wedding trip, is a TB researcher at the CDC. He quickly stated that he was not officially representing the CDC, but many say that is sort of missing the point. What about simply using his vast education to protect the health of the public? He was asked that but he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.
A bigger question: was Andrew Speaker really contagious or not? That really strikes at the heart of this whole issue. Remarkably after a few days, I am still hearing varying answers to this question. Turns out if you are not coughing with a fever and your sputum test -- where they actually look for bacteria in your spit -- is clear, you really aren't contagious. By that standard and according to reports from the hospital, Speaker may never have really been a threat in the first place.
That of course leads to another point. Was this whole scenario overblown? Really depends who you ask. The CDC thought it was enough of a risk that they imposed the first federal quarantine in 44 years. At a minimum though, the whole thing has exposed some serious cracks in the state of our public health system. There was not a unified approach to dealing with this single individual. I can't even imagine what it would've been like if there were suddenly 10 cases or even a hundred.
I am not satisfied with what we have learned so far, so I am flying to Denver to report on the medical center that is charged with taking care of Mr. Speaker and possibly saving his life. As a nation, we have to pay more attention to the invisible invaders that can be far more dangerous that guns or bombs. We have spoken theoretically for so long about the risk of a bio-terror attack and whether or not we would be prepared. If Andrew Speaker is any indication, this time around we blew it.
--By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent