Thursday, May 31, 2007

This week's big news story is of a man with multiple-drug resistant TB who flew to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon, then snuck back into the US for treatment, fearing he would otherwise die. Now the CDC et al. are scrambling to notify airline passengers and others that may have been exposed.

The man claims he didn’t know how dangerous his illness was until he was already on his honeymoon. Since his physician only recommended he postpone his wedding and didn’t ban him outright from flying, he felt it was perfectly safe and reasonable to fly overseas and proceed as normal. Knowing he had TB.

Now he’s quarantined, but he’s a smart and educated guy, and pissed that he’s got a guard at his door.

I dunno, maybe with my science background and all I’m more aware of the dangers of drug-resistant illnesses than the average citizen. Or maybe I just have common sense.

TB, whether run-of-the-mill, or super-scary drug resistant, is no joke. It’s a serious illness. And that drug-resistant shit can take months to get rid of. It can involve removal of lung tissue and months of hospitalization. It has a mortality rate in the neighborhood of 40%. According to one news report, a patient required an estimated half million dollars’ worth of treatment to get well.

So either this guy isn’t as “well-educated and intelligent” as he claims to be, or he didn’t give a shit about risking other peoples’ lives so he could go to his wedding. Luckily, he’s asymptomatic and not should not be highly contagious.


stefanierj said...

I think there's a middle ground, too--where someone can be well-educated but just assume that the marvels of modern medicine are such that it can cure anything, even something bad like TB. Also, since so few people in the US ever get TB, it's probably pretty easy to dismiss its seriousness, ya know? Just a thought.

selzach said...

You make a very good point.

Maybe I'm more aware/cautious about diseases than a lot of folks. (Hubby would call me a germophobe.) I took a parasitology course in college and it was a real eye-opener.