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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
TB man 'sorry' over plane trips
Andrew Speaker meets ABC's Diane Sawyer
Andrew Speaker conducted the interview wearing a mask
A US tuberculosis patient who triggered a health scare by boarding two transatlantic flights has apologised to passengers he may have endangered.

"I'm very sorry for any grief or pain that I have caused," Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old lawyer, told ABC TV.

Mr Speaker, who flew to Europe for his wedding last month, knew he had TB but said he did not know he posed a risk.

Health officials had told him he was not contagious and had not forbidden him to travel, he said.

Wearing a medical mask, he told ABC's Good Morning America programme he hoped fellow passengers could "forgive me and understand that I really believed that I wasn't putting people at risk".

Mr Speaker added that he had tape recordings to prove his claim that he was only advised against travelling, but not barred by officials.

"At every turn it was conveyed to me that my family, my wife, my daughter, that no-one was at risk," he said.

Quarantine

The ABC interview took place at a specialist clinic in Denver, where Mr Speaker is under quarantine.

US and European authorities have launched a worldwide search for people who may have come into contact with him during two transatlantic flights.

Mr Speaker was found to have a rare strain of tuberculosis, and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) says the risk of contracting the drug-resistant disease is low.

Nevertheless it was recommending that people who sat in the same row or in the two rows in front of or behind him to be checked.

Mr Speaker travelled from Atlanta to Paris on 12 May to get married and spend his honeymoon in Europe.

He returned from Prague to Montreal on 24 May and continued his journey into the US by car.

The personal injury lawyer was initially placed under federal quarantine at an Atlanta hospital - the first such order since 1963.

He is restricted to a special "negative pressure" room that traps and cleanses air particles, and medical staff will wear masks when in contact with him.

TB is rare in the US. Last year there were 13,767 recorded cases or 4.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.


SEE ALSO
TB patient faces months in care
31 May 07 |  Americas
US in TB flight infection warning
29 May 07 |  Americas

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