TB Patient Identified; Father-in-Law Works at CDC The Georgia man who shuttled around Europe while infected with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis has been identified as attorney Andrew Speaker, 31, of Atlanta. Speaker's father-in-law, Bob Cooksey, works at the Centers for Disease Control as a microbiologist in the tuberculosis division.
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TB Patient Identified; Father-in-Law Works at CDC

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TB Patient Identified; Father-in-Law Works at CDC

TB Patient Identified; Father-in-Law Works at CDC

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

There are interesting new details today about the young man infected with an extremely drug-resistant form of tuberculosis. Among them, a word that his father-in-law is a researcher at the CDC who works on tuberculosis bacteria. The infected man has been flown to National Jewish Medical Research Center in Denver for treatment. Doctors there expect him to recover fully.

Here's NPR's Joanne Silberner.

JOANNE SILBERNER: The man's name is Andrew Speaker. He's a 31-year-old lawyer who lives in Atlanta. Dr. Gwen Hewitt is taking of him at National Jewish. Hewitt says he has an active case of TB, but he's healthy and not likely to be infectious.

Dr. GWEN HEWITT (National Jewish Medical Center): He would be considered of low infectivity at this point in time. He is not coughing. He is healthy. He does not have a fever. So, he is of low communicability at this point in time.

SILBERNER: Hewitt says the medical team is currently figuring out what drugs will work best for Speaker and whether he's a candidate for surgery. Speaker's infection was discovered not because he had a cough that wouldn't quit - a typical sign of active TB - but because he happened to have an X-ray to check for a rib injury. Shadows on his X-ray showed that one lung is infected. It's not uncommon that people can carry TB bacteria and show no obvious signs.

Dr. HEWITT: The body can actually kill it as it is supposed to do if your immune system is functioning at a 100 percent. In other cases, the body will take care of it for a period of time.

SILBERNER: But then, something can stress the body, and the germ reactivates. Speaker is not the first American to develop extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. A spokesperson for National Jewish says the hospital has treated a handful of cases like Speaker's before. But one curious aspect of Speaker's case is that his father-in-law is a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta who works on tuberculosis bacteria in his laboratory. Dr. Hewitt says that may or may not be important.

Dr. HEWITT: Whether or not that particular fact, as we say, is this true, true and unrelated, we have yet to ascertain that. But that's certainly a fact that we know about. It's being entertained and at this point in time, I can't really make any other judgments beyond that.

SILBERNER: The father-in-law issued a statement today saying that the bacterium did not originate from himself or his laboratory, which operates under high biosecurity conditions. Speaker's wife has reportedly shows no signs of infection so far.

Joanne Silberner, NPR News.

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