Woman with tuberculosis will be forcibly drugged, quarantined, judge rules trends now
A woman with tuberculosis who has refused to get treated will be quarantined and medicated against her will after a judge deemed her a public safety risk.
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The unnamed patient — from Tacoma, Washington — has refused to isolate or take medication since being diagnosed with the highly treatable bacterial infection.
Public health officials pursued a court order after speaking to the woman and her family and failing to persuade her to take quarantine and receive treatment.
'The Local Health Officer seeks an order requiring (the patient) to isolate in her residence, cooperate with testing and treatment as recommended by medical providers. This is less restrictive than a detention facility; however if such measures are not effective, more stringent measures may be requested,' the document reads.
The order is possible under a law passed by state officials in the 1990s, allowing the courts to step in when they deem refusal of treatment a public health risk.
It comes amid fears that once-eradicated diseases such as polio and measles will make a return this year as anti-vaxx sentiment and distrust in doctors grows in America.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns tuberculosis cases increased during the Covid pandemic - reversing a downward trend from the early 90s. Cases also increased globally during the virus's reign.
Tuberculosis cases in the US have drastically fallen since 1993, falling from nearly 25,000 cases in 1993 to under 10,000 in much of the late 2010s
Deaths from tuberculosis dropped significantly over the past three decades. They have fallen from around 1,800 in 1993 to around 600 in 2020, the CDC reports.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced the detection of the case last week, saying it would seek court action after failing to persuade the woman.
Tuberculosis is a highly dangerous airborne disease that spreads through prolonged exposure to others. Unlike Covid, it does not spread through respiratory droplets and cannot live on surfaces.
Treatment includes a three to nine-month course of antibiotics, including include rifamycin; rifapentine - sold as Priftin; rifampic - sold as Rifapicin; and isoniazid.
Depending on the type and severity of the infection, the drugs can be used anywhere from daily to weekly.
The federal government allows states to control public health within their borders. The CDC is responsible for preventing