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TB-Infected Man Says Health Officials Told Him He Was Not a Threat


U.S. lawmakers are holding hearings Wednesday on the case of a man with a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis who traveled to Europe and was allowed back into the United States.

The infected man, 31-year-old Andrew Speaker, told Senate lawmakers via phone from his hospital room in Denver, in the western U.S. state of Colorado, that health officials told him he was "not a threat to anyone." Speaker said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew of his travel plans and told him he was not contagious before he left for Europe last month.

He said he followed all the guidelines for treatment of tuberculosis.

But while in Europe for his wedding and honeymoon, he was told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to take a commercial flight home, due to fears he could expose others to the drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

Speaker flew commercially to Canada anyway and crossed into the United States in a car. A border agent in New York waved him through a crossing point after disregarding a warning to have him isolated.

Doctors who are treating Speaker in Denver say he has a relatively low chance of spreading the disease.

The incident sparked an international health scare last week after U.S. officials said Speaker may have exposed other airline passengers to his strain of tuberculosis.

International public health officials are calling for a stronger global response to drug resistant tuberculosis.

Wednesday's hearings are being held by committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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