TB To-go

Take it on the road, brother

Wrong Turn

by Steve Dupree

I Am. Appalled.

Surely I must have some of my facts wrong. Surely I must not understand some basics. If in fact I do understand the basics, it means that an individual with a known potentially lethal and/or debilitating disease decided that his impending nuptials, his life in general, was of greater import than the lives of possibly countless others. This social reprobate that someone probably, inexplicably, perhaps misguidedly, loves, decided to ignore the warnings and suggestions of the CDC and get on national and international flights with a case of drug-resistant TB so as to attend his wedding.

Screw all those other folks on the airplanes, in the airports, driving cabs or at the rent-a-car counter, at restaurants, at hotels, in the wedding party, wherever. Screw them all. Their lives meant nothing next to his own symbolic gesture of â“love.â” Screw the very old. Screw the very young. Screw the sick. Screw anyone not smart or lucky enough to be far away from that guy or anyone who came into contact with that guy or anyone who came into contact with someone who came into contact with that guy. Whatever happens to anyone else is clearly not his concern. Apparently, he did not even care what happened to his bride, so long as he makes it into the pictures.

I'm seriously appalled.

This goes beyond egotism. It goes beyond a sick disinterest in the welfare of those around you. This jumps straight into psychotic megalomania. (Disclaimer: I am in no way qualified by formal education to make such a diagnosis.) This subhuman piece of crap, assuming I have the basic facts correct, was willing to effectively endanger the entire populations of Europe, Canada and the United States so as to make sure that he did not miss the largely symbolic dog-and-pony show that is the modern wedding. My Gawd, but his mother must be proud (as she gets herself tested for drug-resistant TB).

Of course, I'm exaggerating. Given the history of the world as we know it, it is unlikely that the populations of all those places would be wiped out. Even a really aggressive strain would probably not get more than what, 70 or 80 percent of the populace? And heck, probably 20 or 30 percent of those who do contract such a thing would survive, so we are probably only looking at a 50 percent mortality rate. Which one do you figure he wants to go if it is 50 percent? Would he rather it be him or his new bride? His mother or his father, one friend or the other, the niece or the nephew, who gets to live?

Yeah, it probably isn't that serious. This particular strain of TB apparently isn't that contagious. However, this educated man, this lawyer from Atlanta, knew prior to his departure that his recent x-ray showed an anomaly that the doctors thought to be TB. He knew that the first two courses of drugs administered to treat it were ineffectual. And he knew that his doctor and the CDC doctors strongly suggested that he not travel. It is true, apparently, that the actual diagnosis of extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) was not confirmed until after his departure, but there is no valid claim that the guy could have believed he was not a risk to others.

After he had done as they told him not to and left the country to get married (and possibly infect countless others), he finds out that they want him to stay put while the CDC worked out a way of dealing with him and his travel needs that involved minimal public risk. Then, then he decides that it is important that he get health care and naturally, he believes that it should be only the best for him so, once more, he circumvents the orders of the CDC and arranges a circuitous route of travel to get him back in the United States. The route he chose does not appear to have been one that would expose the least people or one that would clearly avoid exposing those especially vulnerable. No, the route he chose was chosen only with his personal concerns in mind, a route that would essentially allow him to sneak past all those pesky folk concerned about worldwide public health.

Of course, now that his selfish goals have been met, he apologizes. I guess that is it then. All's well that ends well, right? I mean, an apology fixes everything, right? Yeah, right! This incredible display of self-importance and hedonism is symptomatic of the general malaise that afflicts our nation. Our general lack of concern for, or interest in, the well-being of others stands the strong chance of ironically being our national downfall. How many of us will die of breathing disorders because we don't care what we do the air of others? How many will suffer because of that and other environmental insults we routinely offer? How many of us will ignore what our government does to others until they start doing it to us?

Oh well. Not to worry. After all, any lives we screw up, we can fix with an apology, right?


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