A California tuberculosis patient was arrested Monday after he was diagnosed with the disease, but refused to receive treatment. The man, Eduardo Rosas Cruz, was arrested and admitted to a local hospital under guard, law enforcement and local health officials reported.
The 25-year-old was ordered to remain in a hotel room in Stockton, about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento, and take medication for TB in March after he was determined to have the deadly disease, according to Yahoo! News. San Joaquin County Public Health Services spokeswoman Krista Dommer told reporters that Cruz violated those orders by leaving the hotel.
Authorities were concerned Cruz could spread the contagious lung disease, so they issued a public health safety warrant for his arrest. The TB patient was taken into custody Monday night during a traffic stop in nearby Lamont, California.
Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt stated, “We took him to Kern Medical Center and had him admitted there, under guard.”
CBS News notes that the California tuberculosis patient will have to undergo testing to see if he is still contagious. If left untreated, tuberculosis can be deadly. It is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so TB patients are typically isolated if they become contagious.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor explained that, before Rosas Cruz can be sent back to San Joaquin County, he must be medically cleared. That process could take weeks. Taylor added that the goal of arresting and prosecuting a tuberculosis patient like Eduardo Rosas Cruz is not to punish them, but to protect the public from the disease.
Taylor noted that the TB patient refused to cooperate with officials. At that time, Taylor asserted, “it’s time to go in-patient.” In court papers filed to obtain the warrant, public health officials reported the 25-year-old resisted treatment from the beginning. He also used crack cocaine and methamphetamine, according to officials, who added he could develop the drug-resistant strain of TB if he hasn’t already.
Media reports noted that Cruz was a transient who came from an area of Mexico that is known for a drug-resistant strain of the disease. Health officials could not confirm that report.
Tuberculosis was once the leading cause of death in the United States, but antibiotics and testing have helped the numbers reduce significantly. By law, health officials can’t force the California tuberculosis patient to be treated for the disease. However, they do have the authority to isolate him from the public and offer treatment.
[Image via San Francisco Examiner]