TB Patient who Created Health Scare by Flying to Europe Released from Hospital

DENVER (AP) - The tuberculosis patient who created an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding was released from a hospital Thursday after successfully completing inpatient treatment, officials said.

Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta attorney who had a multidrug-resistant strain of TB, underwent surgery on July 17 to remove a diseased portion of his right lung.

The doctors who treated him at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver don't consider him to be completely cured, but the lung operation and antibiotic treatments "have eliminated any detectable evidence of infection," the hospital said.

Speaker will still need to continue antibiotic treatment for about two years.

Hospital spokesman William Allstetter said Thursday that Speaker had left Denver in an air ambulance and returned to Georgia to recuperate. He would not specify where except to say that Speaker was not in a hospital.

"He arrived there safely and he is happy to be home," Allstetter said.

Speaker is not contagious and could have flown by commercial airliner, but "everyone involved in the case" decided the air ambulance was a better choice because of the attention the case has attracted, the hospital said.

Speaker became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar in May when he went ahead with the wedding trip after health officials said they had advised him not to fly. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified him while he was there that tests indicated he had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; later tests found only the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.

He flew to Canada against the CDC's request, drove across the border and turned himself in at a U.S. hospital. For a few days, he held the designation as the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963. He was transferred to National Jewish on May 31.