After 17th court hearing, woman with TB sentenced to prison for refusing treatment – ​​Ars Technica

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Enlarge / Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

A Washington judge on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for a Tacoma woman who refused to have her active, contagious case of tuberculosis treated for more than a year, in violation of multiple court orders. The judge also upheld an earlier order to have her jailed, where she can be tested and treated in isolation.

On Thursday, the woman attended the 17e court hearing on the matter and again refused a court order to isolate or comply with testing and treatment – an order that originally dates back to January 19, 2022. The County Superior Court Judge Pierce, Philip Sorensen, dismissed his objections to being treated and upheld a finding of contempt. While it’s still unclear what her objections are, the woman’s attorney suggested it could be a misunderstanding, according to The News Tribune. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, however, argued that it had “knowingly, willfully, and in defiance of the orders of this court,” noting the lengthy process and numerous proceedings and discussions in which interpreters , translated documents and speakers of his mother tongue were named. available.

Sorenson ordered a civil warrant for her arrest, to be executed on or after March 3, and sentenced her again to prison to undergo involuntary testing and treatment until health officials rule he is sure to release her. The order also authorized Pierce County Jail to place her in a facility equipped to handle her isolation, testing and treatment.

In a statement emailed to Ars and posted to an online blog, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department noted that the woman is “still refusing to self-isolate and get the treatment she needed.” needed to treat his tuberculosis. … We will continue to work with the court and pursue all of our options to protect the community and persuade the patient to voluntarily seek the life-saving treatment she needs.”

As Ars previously reported, the court had renewed isolation and treatment orders on a monthly basis since January 2022. The health department had always said it was approaching the issue with caution, working to maintain a “balance between restricting someone’s liberty and protecting the health of the community.” He sees detention as the “very, very last option”.

But, the department seemed to reach a breaking point in January. In addition to the challenge of the woman who reached the milestone of one year, on January 11, she was involved in a car accident as a passenger. The incident made it clear the woman was violating her self-isolation order and put the driver at risk of infection. Additionally, the women went to the emergency department a day later complaining of chest pains and failed to tell doctors about her case of active TB, putting them and other hospital staff in danger. When they did chest X-rays, they first suspected she had cancer. But in fact, the images showed that his case of tuberculosis was getting worse.

Finally, she also tested positive for COVID-19, “which also strongly suggests that she is not self-isolating pursuant to the order of this court,” a health department court filing said.

Tuberculosis is a life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is mainly associated with lung infections, but the bacteria can invade many areas of the body. Mr. tuberculosis spreads through the air through coughing, sneezing and other respiratory emissions. Those most at risk are those who have close and prolonged contact with an infected person. But the inhalation of a few germs is enough to sow an infection.

Once established, eliminating the infection is not easy. A standard treatment for an uncomplicated case of tuberculosis is a course of four or six months of four types of antibiotics. Failure to follow treatment can stimulate drug resistance. In cases where the bacteria has developed drug resistance – which is on the rise worldwide – treatment can take up to 20 months, and alternative antibiotic treatments can be expensive and toxic.

In total, tuberculosis is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world, causing 1.6 million deaths in 2021, according to the World Health Organization. And the increase in multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is considered a global public health crisis and a threat to health security.

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