On May 12, 2007, Speaker flew from the U.S. to Paris. On May 14, he flew on to Athens and, two days later, flew to the Aegean holiday island of Santorini for his wedding. (The mayor of Santorini, Angelos Roussos, states that Speaker had not filed the necessary paperwork for the civil ceremony.) Speaker then flew to Rome for his honeymoon.
Doctors say that only after Speaker left the United States did they realize he likely had XDR-TB. Speaker says that he was informed of MDR TB before leaving the country, and that while officials preferred him not to fly, they said that he was not a threat and was not required to wear a mask. "Once Speaker was in Europe, however, test results showed his strain of tuberculosis was even rarer than originally thought leading public health officials to try to persuade Speaker to turn himself in to Italian health authorities." The CDC informed him that there were no options for the CDC to get him home, and that he would have to arrange private transportation. Instead, he flew by commercial jet to Prague and then on to Montréal. Both Speaker and his new wife claimed that, had they been offered transport, they would have accepted it and would have waited in Rome. Speaker has also said that the CDC told him they were going to send officials to put him in Italian quarantine for up to two years, and that he was not told special transportation was arranged.
Once in Montréal, Speaker rented a car and drove across the Canada – United States border. A United States Border Patrol agent failed to detain him at the frontier, disregarding a warning after he had passed Speaker's passport through the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) to hold the traveler, wear a protective mask when dealing with him, and call health authorities because he "did not look sick".
According to the CDC, Speaker flew on the following flights:
|Airlines||Flight#||Aircraft||Date||Departing||Scheduled Departure||Calculated Scheduled Duration||Arriving||Number of Passengers||Patient Seat Row Number|
|Air France / Delta||385 / 8517||Boeing 747-400||2007-05-12||Atlanta, Georgia||8:45 PM Local||8 Hr 27 Min||Paris, France||433||30|
|Air France||1232||Airbus A320||2007-05-14||Paris, France||7:35 AM Local||3 Hr 11 Min||Athens, Greece||not more than 172||unknown|
|Olympic Air||560||ATR 72-202||2007-05-16||Athens, Greece||7:25 PM Local||0 Hr 40 Min||Thira Island, Greece||not more than 74||unknown|
|Olympic Air||655||ATR 72-202||2007-05-21||Mykonos Island, Greece||1:45 PM Local||0 Hr 40 Min||Athens, Greece||not more than 74||unknown|
|Olympic Air||239||Boeing 737-400||2007-05-21||Athens, Greece||5:30 PM Local||2 Hr 05 Min||Rome, Italy||not more than 168||unknown|
|Czech Airlines||727||Boeing 737-400||2007-05-24||Rome, Italy||8:50 AM Local||1 Hr 55 Min||Prague, Czech Republic||not more than 168||unknown|
|Czech Airlines||0104||Airbus A310||2007-05-24||Prague, Czech Republic||12:25 PM Local||8 Hr 25 Min||Montreal, Canada||191||12|
It was reported that Speaker's father-in-law, Robert C. Cooksey, works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is a microbiologist who has conducted research on tuberculosis, according to his CDC biography posted on the agency's Web site. However, Cooksey has never worked with the strain of tuberculosis Speaker has been diagnosed with.
Wearing a medical mask, Speaker was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on the June 1 edition of the American talk show Good Morning America on ABC and apologized to all passengers, explaining that he had not intended to endanger them.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis is typically much less contagious than wild strains that have not evolved multiple drug resistance (see extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis). According to an interview on Larry King Live, Speaker said that he had not been told that there was any risk of transmitting the disease to others, nor did the May 10 letter recommending against his travel state this, which Speaker in any case had not received before leaving May 14. His wife, with whom he lived for five months without precautions, including traditional celebration of the first few days of a honeymoon, remains uninfected.
Speaker was in New York when the CDC served him with an isolation order but CDC director Julie Gerberding stated that the government was legally constrained prior to that order. The federal statute granting quarantine authority allows isolation or quarantine but only for individuals coming into the country from a foreign country or territory.
Georgia TB law should have required Speaker confined for two weeks and only allowed travel for medical appointments. A court confinement order can isolate a patient only after the infected patient ignores medical advice. This method can be overridden by a declaration of public health emergency by the governor of Georgia.
On July 12, 2007 it was announced that seven Canadians and two Czechs will launch $1.3 million in civil lawsuits in Montreal. Eight were on the same flight as Andrew Speaker and one was a roommate of one of those on the same flight.
Satellite broadcast on the role of public health in a nuclear or radiological terrorist incident.(Notice to Readers)(Brief Article)
Jan 28, 2005; CDC and the Public Health Training Network will present a satellite broadcast and webcast, "The Role of Public Health in a...