Thanks, Andrew Speaker

One man with TB shows the world why the quarantine system often doesn't work.

Glenn McGee

Last month, one man single-handedly exposed the fact that the US public health system doesn't always do its job. Infected with a deadly drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, Andrew Speaker traveled to several countries, exposing more than 600 people on two flights, even though a scan of his passport brought up a warning to keep him in custody and contact health authorities.

One could argue that it's the public health system's fault that he developed extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in the first place. TB becomes resistant to antibiotics when improperly treated, and XDR-TB is resistant to at least two main first-line drugs and at least three of the six second-line drugs. If we thoroughly treated TB in its less deadly-form, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wouldn't have had to institute its first federal quarantine in nearly 45 years.

It is clear that our current system of directly observed...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?