June 6th, 2007
01:43 PM ET
9 years ago

TB-infected talks by phone to senators

Watch Andrew Speaker discuss his condition with a Senate Subcommittee.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The 31-year-old lawyer infected with a rare, often fatal form of tuberculosis told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday that he was never told prior to his flight last month to Europe for his wedding that he was contagious, but a health official said he was warned not to travel.

"I've cooperated with anything anyone has asked me to do," Andrew Speaker told the Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Talking by telephone from his isolation room at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Speaker said he decided to leave the country after discussing his plans to get married in Greece with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness and his future father-in-law, who is a microbiologist at the CDC involved in tuberculosis research.

By May 10, during a meeting at the Fulton County Department of Health, "numerous people at CDC knew about the plans," he said. "It was CDC who was doing the testing."

During the meeting, attended by health officials and his parents, future in-laws and fiancee, "none of us was wearing masks," he said.

At the time, he knew that he was infected with a multi-drug resistant form of the disease but did not yet know that it was the more serious extensively drug-resistant form, officials said.

Speaker has been deemed smear-negative, which means he is not highly contagious, but can still pass along the disease.

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