TB - Should you be concerned? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau, MO

TB - Should you be concerned?

TB - Should you be concerned?
By: Holly Brantley

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - As the number of people possibly exposed to a rare and dangerous strain of Tuberculosis grows, so does the outrage.

31-year-old Andrew Speaker took two international flights, exposing dozens to the infection.

Today he spoke out, saying he's sorry for all the pain he's caused. But, he claims doctors and the centers for disease control and prevention knew he had TB before he flew to Europe.

Speaker says he didn't think it was contagious and nobody ever told him he'd be putting people at risk by boarding a plane.

He's now quarantined in a Denver hospital. But the TB risk still exists. Could you be at risk?

Health professionals in the Heartland say probably not. But, while there's no need to panic, you should be aware the concern is out there.

"I don't believe it's a call for panic in our area," said Infection Control Director Gayla Tripp of Saint Francis Medical Center. "Just be aware.  I feel we should be concerned anytime a bacterial strain is resistant to first line medication."

Tripp says XDR-TB spreads like any other form of TB, through the air. Symptoms could include fatigue, weight loss, fever, chills, nights sweats, and coughing. Right now no vaccine is used in the United States.

If you think you might have been exposed, see your health care provider. You can also ask for a TB skin test.

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