Monday, April 02, 2007

Man Jailed for Having Deadly TB

This is going to be a major issue with the rise of drug resistant strains of viruses. What to do and how to treat people? This is going to be the ethical dilemma faced in the near future.

Behind the county hospital's tall cinderblock walls, a 27-year-old tuberculosis patient sits in a jail cell equipped with a ventilation system that keeps germs from escaping.
Robert Daniels has been locked up indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of his life, since last July. But he has not been charged with a crime. Instead, he suffers from an extensively drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, or XDR-TB. It is considered virtually untreatable.

County health authorities obtained a court order to lock him up as a danger to the public because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others. Specifically, he said he did not heed doctors' instructions to wear a mask in public.

"I'm being treated worse than an inmate," Daniels said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press last month. "I'm all alone. Four walls. Even the door to my room has been locked. I haven't seen my reflection in months."

Though Daniels' confinement is extremely rare, health experts say it is a situation that U.S. public health officials may have to confront more and more because of the spread of drug-resistant TB and the emergence of diseases such as SARS and avian flu in this increasingly interconnected world. Read More.


Rusty Lopez said...

It seems that, due to our culture's emphasis on individual rights, it appears to be an injustice to quarantine an individual with a deadly, contagious disease. In the past this was not the case - I suppose due to the fact that, up until relatively recently, there were no vaccines available. In a sense, our advanced medical technology has caused us to expect a right to life that virtually no one in history has experienced.

Ron Ballew said...

I would agree, quarantine used to be normal. My mom used to tell me of houses that would get quarantined when she was young.

I think that this issue will come to the forefront as more drug resistant strains spread. Our radical individualism will take a knock.