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US quarantine laws need updating: CDC director

[JURIST] Dr. Julie Gerberding [official profile], Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) [official websites], testified [recorded video] before the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies [official website] Wednesday in the wake of a tuberculosis scare that US interstate and foreign quarantine regulations [CFR Title 42 text] needs to be codified to reflect up-to-date disease containment methods such as isolation and quarantine. Gerberding said that "more explicit due process protections for written orders and an administrative review hearing" were necessary, as well as expanding the availability and reporting of ill passengers on aircraft. Gerberding also emphasized the need to tighten health security at ports of entry by increasing information sharing, detection equipment, and medically-trained staff.

Gerberding's recommendations follow an ongoing investigation of US citizen Andrew Speaker who traveled [flight itinerary] from Italy back into the United States by the way of the Czech Republic and Canada despite being instructed to cancel all his flight plans following a diagnosis of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) [CDC backgrounder]. Speaker also testified at the hearing by phone. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website] and the CDC had requested that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) [official website] detain the patient upon his re-entry into the US, but according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website], a Border Patrol agent ignored the flag and allowed Speaker to reenter the US. He remains in quarantine under the authority of the Denver County health officials. The Washington Times has more.

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