May 31, 2007


Border Safety at Focus of TB Case (ROBERT BLOCK, 5/31/07, Wall Street Journal)

When news of the TB case first broke, it appeared that the patient had slipped into the country undetected. Andrew Speaker, 31 years old, drove as far as New York City before going to a hospital, despite an international manhunt by U.S. authorities. The Centers for Disease Control had caught up with Mr. Speaker in Rome, where it advised him that under no circumstances should he use commercial aircraft.

In what appears to be a coincidence, Mr. Speaker is the son-in-law of Robert C. Cooksey, a microbiologist who works in the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. In a written statement, Mr. Cooksey said Mr. Speaker's ailment "did not originate from myself or the CDC's labs, which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity." Dr. Cooksey said also that he wasn't involved "in any decisions my son-in-law made regarding his travel."

According to people familiar with the investigation, the CDC notified U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- part of the Department of Homeland Security -- last week that Mr. Speaker, a U.S. citizen, may have been attempting to gain entry into the country from Europe. The information was placed into Customs' nationwide database, which is available to agents at every airport, seaport and land-border crossing.

The advisory warned officers that Mr. Speaker was highly contagious. It cautioned them to wear protective masks and gloves and to detain him before notifying the CDC.

According to investigators, it appears that when Mr. Speaker arrived on May 24 at the crossing at Champlain, N.Y., his passport was swiped, activating the flag on his records and the warning. Records show that Mr. Speaker spent less than two minutes at the border post before being cleared to enter the country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Kevin Corsaro earlier this week said that Mr. Speaker had passed through the Champlain crossing and didn't appear sick to agents.

Time to deport the natives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2007 7:30 PM

Leaving aside the Lou Dobbs reference, this story it just too weird to not have any significance.

One need not be a conspiracy nut to wonder just WTF is going on here.

Posted by: Bruno at May 31, 2007 11:36 PM

The guy was on his honeymoon - how does his new bride feel about TB?

Reminds me a bit too much of "12 Monkeys".

Posted by: ratbert at June 1, 2007 2:24 AM

I am sure that Lou Dobbs is a nice guy. But his constant repetition of his very one-sided opinions (for example, on illegal immigration) every night on CNN is turning me away from this once mainstay of my TV news viewing. If he'd been born in Mexico, given his personality, he'd have been the first over the fence heading to the U.S. It would be nice to hear a little humanity from him, from time to time.

Geoff Hasler

Posted by: Geoff Hasler at June 2, 2007 12:33 PM