Pierce Co. judge orders arrest of woman with tuberculosis if left untreated

A judge ordered law enforcement to arrest a Pierce County woman if she does not start tuberculosis treatment — or prove she is not contagious — by Friday, March 3.
More than a year ago, she was ordered to remain isolated at home to keep her from spreading the bacterial infection. A Health Department spokesperson stated it is not clear why the woman is refusing treatment and testing.
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Today’s court order authorized arresting the woman for involuntary detention, testing, and possible treatment. The spokesperson told KIRO Newsradio that the woman is not believed to be a significant threat to the community.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that spreads through the air, but not as easily as coronavirus, colds, or flu. Pierce County logs approximately 20 active cases of tuberculosis each year on average.
Tuberculosis infections usually affect the lungs but can happen in other parts of the body. If left untreated, it will result in death, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. People with active, untreated infections are contagious and represent a risk to the community. Tuberculosis is curable with medication.
“Most people we contact are happy to get the treatment they need,” said Nigel Turner, division director of Communicable Disease Control, in a prepared statement. “Occasionally people refuse treatment and isolation. When that happens, we take steps to help keep the community safe.”