An unidentified female patient with an extremely rare and drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is being treated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and authorities are reportedly attempting to track down hundreds of people who may have been in contact with her and exposed to the dangerous form tuberculosis.
According to an NBC report, the unidentified woman flew from India to the United States and “traveled to at least three states before she sought treatment from a U.S. doctor.” The patient was reportedly “isolated in a suburban Chicago hospital before she was sent to the NIH.”
“The patient traveled in April from India to the United States through Chicago O’Hare airport,” the CDC said in a statement to NBC. “The patient also spent time in Missouri and Tennessee. Seven weeks after arriving in the United States, the patient sought treatment for and was diagnosed with active TB.”
The CDC said it “will obtain the passenger manifest for that flight from the airline and will begin a contact investigation.” The agency said that though “the risk of getting a contagious disease on an airplane is low, public health officers sometimes need to find and alert travelers who may have been exposed to an ill passenger.”
But the unidentified woman does not have a normal case of tuberculosis.
She has what is known as XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), which is so rare and dangerous that the CDC reportedly “got reports of 63 cases between 1993 and 2011″ and “only about a third to half of cases can even be cured.”
Though ordinary TB is “hard to treat and requires, at a minimum, weeks of antibiotics,” XDR-TB “resists the effects of almost all the known TB drugs” and patients sometimes “have to have pockets of infection surgically removed.” In fact, XDR-TB is reportedly “so dangerous that health officials will have to make a concerted effort to warn anyone who may be at risk.”
According to the CDC, “TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, shouts, or sings,” and “these bacteria can float in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB bacteria can become infected.”
The NIH said that “the patient was transferred to the NIA via special air and ground ambulances” and is staying in an isolation room that is “specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections, including XDR-TB.” The special isolation rooms reportedly “control air flow to prevent germs from escaping into the rest of the hospital or outside.”
The woman reportedly “may face months or even years of treatment,” and, according to NBC, “the average cost of treating multidrug-resistant TB is $134,000, compared to $17,000 for a normal case.” The cost can even “shoot up to $430,000 for an extensively resistant case.” NBC noted that it is not yet clear at the moment who will pay for the patient’s extensive treatment.
Unauthorized and potentially counterfeit, dangerous surgical devices and medical supplies have flowed unchecked into the Department of Veterans Affairs supply chain and into VA operating rooms, according to internal agency correspondence from a major supplier who blamed new procurement rules.
The bogus supplies gained a foothold when the department started using reverse auctions to fulfill some contracts, according to both department officials and a 2012 memo from Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical device business.
In the memo, the company told the VA it was getting surgical supplies bought from unauthorized distributors through the so-called “gray market,” and said those supplies raised serious questions about patient safety, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Officials also warned the VA that an ongoing corporate investigation into the gray market showed how some unauthorized sellers were passing off products stolen from other hospitals.
“We do not believe that the VA intended for its efforts to utilize new procurement tools such as reverse auctions to result in these outcomes,” a company official wrote.
The Johnson & Johnson memo included a list of seven gray market surgical supply purchases by agency medical centers in a half-dozen states. But the company made clear there were more examples across the VA.
The warnings were issued months after the VA had a fierce internal debate over using reverse auctions, which have sellers compete to offer goods or services at the lowest price.
A top contracting official, Jan Frye, had put a halt on reverse auctions earlier in 2012, citing a “groundswell” of complaints from VA suppliers. But within weeks, the VA reversed after fierce lobbying from FedBid, the politically connected contractor handling the VA’s reverse auction platforms.
An inspector general’s report earlier this year issued a scathing rebuke to the VA over its dealings with FedBid, and said a VA procurement official, Susan Taylor, had improper contacts with FedBid. The inspector general recommended FedBid be disbarred. Ms. Taylor resigned soon after the report.
Emails obtained by The Times show concerns about reverse auctions persisted.
According to Johnson & Johnson, a South Carolina VA facility received a delivery of “trocar” surgical devices from an unauthorized distributor that was sent to VA without a box and was instead wrapped in yellowed packaging and rubber bands.
“The product being sold may not have been stored properly (high temperature, high humidity, no pest control, etc.), which could create patient risk,” Paul B. Smith, government account director for the company, told the VA, explaining the results of an ongoing company investigation.
An internal VA advisory group also raised an alarm in 2012 in a closed meeting with VA’s senior procurement council, which is composed of the agency’s top acquisition officials. The group recommended that VA stop purchasing “clinically oriented products” through reverse auctions.
Among other issues, the advisory group said FedBid had blocked access to names and contact information for contracting officers. And FedBid officials weren’t qualified to handle clinical purchases, according to the group.
“They do not possess the clinical expertise to position themselves between the buyer and vendor,” the industry group wrote in a report, adding that some VA suppliers refused to participate in reverse auctions.
“As a result of limited participation, FedBid in some cases sourced products from unauthorized distributors,” the report stated. “This has both resulted in significantly increased costs and encouraged the use of ‘gray market’ or counterfeit products.”
In an email statement to The Washington Time, a FedBid spokesman said the company had “established measures to protect against unauthorized sellers and will suspend or remove sellers who attempt to undermine the integrity of the marketplace.”
The company also said that government contracting officers ultimately have a responsibility to ensure they’re buying the right products.
“As with every procurement process, whether it is a reverse auction, single source contract, or open tendering, each buyer has the responsibility to ensure that they are purchasing the right products for their customer,” FedBid spokesman Andres Mancini wrote in an email.
In an email on Friday responding to questions from The Times placed earlier this week, a VA spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson raised the issue in 2012 with the Veterans Health Administration, which prompted the agency to initiate a validation process among small business suppliers.
Spokeswoman Genevieve Billia noted in an email that VA couldn’t say how often it finds counterfeit material, but noted, “VA has a process in place to identify such items that come in, sot that they do not get to the patient.”
In September, two years after Johnson & Johnson contacted the VA, the agency inspector general’s office issued a report substantiating several of the concerns.
Contractors taking part in reverse auctions needed only to “self certify” that they’re authorized distributors of official surgical products sought by VA, according to auditors. The lack of more stringent requirements put VA at risk of buying from unauthorized distributors, according to the report.
In a written response to the inspector general’s report this year, VA officials agreed with a recommendation to ensure against the purchase of gray market items.
It’s another tale of two cities – one set of traffic rules for Mayor de Blasio, and one for the rest of us.
Just two days after de Blasio announced a sweeping plan to crack down on dangerous driving, an SUV with the mayor riding shotgun ran stop signs, changed lanes without signaling and flouted the speed limit.
It was caught on camera by a WCBS-TV/Channel 2 news crew that trailed de Blasio’s official two-vehicle motorcade after he left a news conference in Queens Thursday touting the city’s pothole repair work.
The behavior was a far cry from de Blasio’s comments Tuesday when he announced his Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths.
He proposed a slew of measures, including lowering the citywide speed limit and installing more cameras to catch drivers who speed and run red lights.
“We’ve put a very bold plan before you,” he said Tuesday, “and we want the public to know we’re holding ourselves to this standard and we intend to achieve these goals.”
Yet, on Thursday, his official black SUV blew through two stop signs in Queens and was clocked by Channel 2 traveling 40 to 45 mph in a 30 mph zone and pushing 60 in a 45 mph zone.
When he reached City Hall, the mayor lingered in his SUV, leaving the second car in his caravan unable to pass through the City Hall gate – blocking a crosswalk and an intersection.
If a driver had been ticketed for all the violations, he would have racked up 13 points on his license – more than the 11 that trigger a suspension, Channel 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
It is not clear why the mayor was in a rush, but he is often behind schedule. His news conference in Queens began 15 minutes late.
While serving as the city’s public advocate, in 2010, de Blasio chose to drive himself, “often accelerating aggressively to beat yellow lights,” according to an account in The New York Times.
De Blasio’s press secretary, Phil Walzak, said, “We believe public safety is everyone’s responsibility. We also recognize NYPD’s training and protocols, and refer questions related to security and transportation to them. With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week.”
In a prepared statement, the Police Department said “personnel assigned to the mayor’s security detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety.”
“At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include… maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections.”
The National Border Patrol Council has come forward to reveal to the American public once again management practices that could be risking the lives of Americans – and the lives of illegal immigrants.
Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, spoke exclusively with Breitbart News and claimed that Border Patrol management has begun the practice of ordering Border Patrol Agents to stand down and cease pursuing drug smugglers, human smugglers and traffickers, and illegal aliens. He also warned it could lead to illegal aliens entering the country from nations associated with terrorism.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s drugs, bodies, or how large the group is, our agents are being ordered to stand down by Border Patrol management,” said Moran. “I have received reports from our agents in every single sector from San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas that they are receiving these orders.”
“They are not being relieved in place, they are simply being told that someone else is being dispatched, but none of us have seen that occur,” he explained. “We are simply being ordered to stand down and stop tracking and trying to apprehend the criminals.” He discussed the importance of agents being relieved in place when tracking an individual or group.
“Border Patrol senior leadership says the stand downs are a means of addressing budgetary shortfalls and making sure agents aren’t working longer shifts,” Moran said. “The Border Patrol has a larger budget than ever, but the agents on the ground have not seen the benefits of an increased budget. The increased budget has not trickled down to the men and women with their boots on the ground.”
“They are placing the budgetary concerns before the security of our border,” Moran stated. “We have situations where top-level bureaucrats in the U.S. Border Patrol and in the Customs and Border Protection Agency are receiving massive bonuses – some up to $64,000 – for finding ways to reduce the pay Border Patrol Agents receive.”
“Groups that are outside of human trafficking, human smuggling, and drug smuggling are going to exploit these stand down orders as well, not only cartels but illegal aliens from nations that are tied to terrorism,” he warned.