Tara and Revere have posts up today on the story of the anonymous jackass of Air France Flight 385 and Czech Air flight 104. His story has been all over the news lately – he’s the idiot with extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) who took two intercontinental flights after being diagnosed with the disease because he didn’t want to mess up his long-planned wedding in Greece, or honeymoon in Rome.
Yesterday, he told his side of the story to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, because wanted “to make sure his side of the story was heard.” Reading his side of the story, I was reminded of the old saying, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and have people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” The intellectually impaired gentleman in question was a much more sympathetic figure before he tried to explain himself.
Here are the basic facts that underlie this case. All of them are acknowledged by the patient himself. In some cases, the health authorities have slightly different memories, but for these purposes let’s be kind and give Mr. Twobraincell the benefit of the doubt.
- Flying with active TB is generally considered to be a bad idea.
- The patient was, at a minimum, told this. He was also told, at a minimum, that the health department “preferred” that he not travel. Idiot-boy decided that “prefer” wasn’t the same as “not allowed,” so he was going to travel anyway.
- While the patient was in Italy on his honeymoon the CDC discovered that his TB was even more drug resistant than was initially thought.
- The CDC contacted the patient in Italy, informed him of the diagnosis, informed him that he was under no circumstances to fly back across the Atlantic, and ordered him to turn himself over to Italian health authorities for treatment and isolation. They also informed him that his passport was flagged and that he was on the no-fly list.
- The patient disregarded these orders, and evaded the no-fly list by flying on foreign carriers as far as Montreal, then driving to New York.
- The patient is now in isolation, with an armed guard in place to make sure that he stays there.
It’s possible – barely – to write off the first few chapters in this escapade as a misunderstanding. Perhaps he just didn’t understand the circumstances, or believed that they would have used stronger measures to keep him from traveling if it was that dangerous to others. We couldn’t be absolutely sure, based on this, that the man is a miserable jackass. There would merely be an overwhelming weight of evidence pointing to the conclusion that this guy is a self-centered jackass who was willing to risk infecting an unknown number of strangers in order to have a nice wedding.
The return to the US removes any lingering doubts. He was ordered, for the safety of others, to enter immediate quarantine in Italy. He did not. His stated reason?
The man said he wants people to understand he sneaked back into the United States because he feared for his life. An unsuccessful treatment in Italy would have doomed him, he said, because he said they lacked the expertise.
For crying out loud, we’re talking about Italy. I’d understand the concern if he was in Sierra Leone, or East Timor, or Malaysia, or something, but in Italy? Is Italian health care – or health care in the rest of Europe, for that matter – really that bad compared to health care in the USA?
The sad thing is that this schmuck still doesn’t get it. Here’s the money quote from his interview:
“I’m a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person,” he said. “This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I’ve cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary confinement in Italy thing.”
Personally, I’m glad that there’s a guard there to protect the rest of us from his stupidity. With any luck, we’ll be protected from further exposure to either his disease or his dumbness for as long as necessary.