Pierce County woman isolated for tuberculosis released from home detention

Jul 26, 2023, 8:06 AM

tuberculosis pierce released...

A Tacoma woman had an active case of tuberculosis (TB), according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. ((Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images))

(Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

The Pierce County woman arrested in June for defying a judge’s orders to medicate her Tuberculosis has now been released after being cured.

She was arrested in June after more than a year of refusing to medicate or self-isolate.

Pierce County woman with tuberculosis in custody, treatment optional

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department now says she’s returned three straight negative tests. That means she is no longer contagious.

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.

“If you walk down the street or if you have a brief period in a room with a person with TB, you’re extremely unlikely to get infected with that type of brief exposure,” Dr. Thomas Hawn, director of the University of Washington’s TB research and training center, told KIRO Newsradio.

In April, a Tacoma police officer reportedly saw her get on a city bus heading to a local casino.

The court order says she can be released when she is no longer a threat to the community.

The spokesperson told KIRO Newsradio that the woman is not believed to be a significant threat to the community.

“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.”

A recently released court agreement frees her from involuntary home detention, but there are strings attached. She must allow health staff to check on her, and she must continue to take TB medication until her treatment for the lung disease is completed.

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Pierce County woman isolated for tuberculosis released from home detention