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Globetrotting Honeymooner Sparks International TB Scare

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Andrew Speaker triggered an international tuberculosis scare when he exposed fellow travelers to a highly drug resistant form of TB. Speaker knew that when he flew out of Atlanta for his wedding in Greece that he had TB, but did not find out that it was a highly dangerous form until he reached Europe.

Speaker disregarded US health officials by flying to and from Europe for his wedding and honeymoon, then driving across the US border in upstate New York while on a watch list for detention. Speaker put dozens of other airline passengers who sat near him at risk for contracting TB.

Speaker finally surrendered in New York and was placed under a federal isolation order, which is the first issued since 1963. His family claimed that the decision to continue with the wedding plans was because of Speaker’s father-in-law, Dr. Robert Cooksey, a researcher in the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis. Cooksey claimed that Speaker was not contagious under health guidelines and posed no threat to others.