We all owe a responsibility to each other when it comes to recognizing the widespread impact of health risk.


Too bad Andrew Speaker didn’t think so.


In fact, by travelling on airplanes with an especially dangerous drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, and keeping it a secret, he risked the health and possibly the lives, of innocent people seated nearby.


We can’t afford to be smart-alecks, daredevils or cowboys in our global society. Not with terrorism, hate-crimes, and racism still prevalent. It’s foolhardy.


And especially not in a world of infectious diseases, like TB, Avian Flu, SARS, or any other airborne diseases.

It was long ago said, “No man is an island” (John Donne (1572-1631), meaning that human’s don’t thrive when isolated from others. But it also means that nobody can walk around our planet thinking they are above the laws, regulations and civil responsibilities that govern humanity.

Speaker, 31, is a personal injury lawyer, and should well know the potential costs, legally, of reckless endangerment to others. And there’s no way he can claim ignorance — his doctors specifically warned him against flying. In my opinion, his recent actions are akin to someone afflicted with AIDS having unprotected sex with unknowing partners.

More astonishingly, his new father-in-law, Bob Cooksey, is a microbiologist at the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., where he specializes in TB, and who likely (though unadmittedly) was the one who eventually reported his son-in-law’s foolish decision to travel.

According to Speaker, though he knew he had TB, he only found out he had the virulent strain once he arrived in Europe, and made the decision to fly through Canada because he thought U.S. authorities wouldn’t let him fly.


So, in other words, he knew he was sick when he boarded the first plane (mistake), and knew he was even sicker when he boarded the second. Apparently, he felt the need to return to the States for fear he wouldn’t get the right treatment while in Europe.

Shouldn’t he have thought of that before leaving the States?!?

I understand wanting to be home when you’re not well, but not at the risk of others. Now, back in the U.S., and in hospital under quarantine, Speaker is apologizing for his immature and risky behaviour.

Hopefully, for those he came in contact with, it’s not too late.

Most people, when sick with a bad cold, or flu, especially during the winter months, stay home. Mainly to get better, but also, so as not to infect everyone around them. During cold-season, we often discuss how to best take care not to infect others — by sneezing into tissues, covering our mouths when we cough, washing our hands incessantly, and keeping our distance.

Just as we take into consideration our family and friends, our neighbours, co-workers, the people we pass on the street, when we’re ill, so too, must we respect strangers around us when we travel.