Washington State Woman with TB Faces Jail After Casino Visit
Posted on: April 10, 2023, 06:55h.
Last updated on: April 10, 2023, 06:55h.
An unnamed Tacoma, Wash. woman who refuses to isolate with tuberculosis (TB) has visited an area casino at least once, according to court documents seen by The Tacoma News Tribune.
The woman, identified in filings only as “V.N.,” has been ordered by the Pierce County Superior Court to isolate and receive treatment for the disease. But thus far, she has failed to comply, The News Tribune reports.
V.N. has had the disease for over a year and has ignored over a dozen court orders.
On March 2, the woman was found to be in contempt of those orders and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Nevertheless, as of April 5, she remained at large and continued to avoid detention, according to court documents filed last week.
At the time of publication, it is not clear whether V.N. has been apprehended by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
A corrections officer has been assigned to surveil the respondent to “determine her habits in order to execute the warrant in a safe manner,” according to the filings.
The officer “observed a person they believed to be respondent leave her residence, get onto a city bus, and arrive at a local casino,” the documents said.
While TB is a life-threatening bacterial infection that attacks the lungs, frequent visitors to Tacoma-area casinos probably shouldn’t panic. Transmission usually occurs only after prolonged, frequent, or close contact with an infected individual.
That means it is far more likely to be transferred between members of the same household. Even then, 90% of those infected are asymptomatic and cannot pass on the disease. This is known as latent TB. For the 10% who develop active TB, the deathrate is around 66% if effective treatment is not received.
In 2021, the disease killed around 1.6 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Just 526 of those deaths occurred in the US, per figures from the CDC. Washington state averages around 200 cases per year, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD).
Treatment for active TB involves prolonged antibiotics courses of between four and 20 weeks because some strains of the disease are resistant to certain medications. This is something V.N. shows no willingness to be subjected to, according to court filings.
In a blog post days before V.N.’s arrest warrant was issued, the TPCHD admitted that such cases involve a fine balance between the risk to the public and the civil liberties of the patient.
“We are always hopeful a patient will choose to comply voluntarily. Seeking to enforce a court order through a civil arrest warrant is always our last resort,” the health department said.
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