Associated Press (09.09.07) - Monday, September 10, 2007
A congressional report, set to be released Monday, finds that
gaps in security measures led to the May incident in which a
man with tuberculosis freely left and re-entered the United
States despite public health warnings. Democratic staff
prepared the report for the House Homeland Security Committee;
an advance copy was obtained by the Associated Press (AP).
"How we address these gaps now will serve as a direct
predictor of how well we will handle future events, especially
those involving emerging, re-emerging, and pandemic infectious
diseases," the report states, according to AP.
In May, public health officials warned Atlanta attorney Andrew
Speaker, who had TB, against overseas travel. Nonetheless,
Speaker flew from Atlanta to Europe for his wedding and
CDC determined it lacked the equipment to safely transport
Speaker back to the United States on a flight lasting longer
than eight hours. There was a four-hour delay between CDC's
request to place Speaker on a no-flight list and its
fulfillment by the Transportation Security Administration.
Despite alerting Customs and Border Patrol officials to stop
Speaker at the US border, agents allowed Speaker to pass
freely into the country from Canada.
"This was a real-world incident and there was a breakdown at
the intersection of homeland security and public health," said
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). "The government had numerous
plans and policies in place to secure our communities, but
they just didn't follow the playbook."
"Preparedness is a process and not an event," said Tom
Skinner, a CDC spokesperson. The agency is completing a review
of its response and is continuing to learn from the incident,
A House Homeland Security subcommittee plans to conduct a
hearing this month to further address these issues.