TB patient will be treated in Denver
DENVER ” A Georgia man suffering from a dangerous form of tuberculosis will be treated at Denver’s National Jewish Medical and Research Center, but it wasn’t immediately known when he would arrive, officials said Wednesday.
The man is under a U.S. government-ordered quarantine in an Atlanta hospital because the bacteria is so dangerous, but he is probably not highly infectious, officials said.
The Denver hospital, which specializes in respiratory disorders, expects him to arrive within the next week, hospital spokesman William Allstetter said.
He will be treated with a variety of drugs not normally used on tuberculosis, including some used for such diseases as pneumonia and leprosy, said Dr. Charles Daley, head of the infectious disease division at National Jewish.
Daley said surgeons at the University of Colorado Hospital could also operate to remove infected tissue and then continue treating him with drugs.
National Jewish has treated two other patients with what appears to be the same strain of tuberculosis since 2000, although that strain had not been identified and named at the time, Daley said.
He said the patients had improved enough to be released but he didn’t have details of their current conditions.
Daley said the man would be kept in an isolation room with special filters and ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria, but he won’t be kept under guard. He said police would be called if the man left without permission, but he did not expect that to happen.
“This person is a patient, and they want to get better,” he said.
Health officials around the world were trying to find about 80 passengers who sat near the man on two trans-Atlantic flights. The man told a newspaper he took the first flight from Atlanta to Europe on May 12 for his wedding, then the second flight home on May 24 because he feared he might die without treatment in the U.S.
National Jewish said it had no plans to treat any of the other passengers or crew members on those flights.
Daley said National Jewish officials had been in discussions with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for weeks about treating the man, but he did not say when they first learned of the case or whether those conversations took place before the first flight.
Daley said both the CDC and the patient wanted him to be treated at National Jewish.
Colorado has a long history of treating people with tuberculosis. The state’s sunny weather, clean air and hot springs began attracting patients after the Civil War.
National Jewish was built with donations from across the country to treat tuberculosis and admitted its first patient with the disease in 1899.