An arrest warrant has been issued for a Washington-state woman who health officials say is refusing treatment for tuberculosis, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
"People can die from TB if they don’t get treatment," the department stated. "And they can expose other people to unnecessary risk of getting TB."
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said the woman has refused to take life-saving medication or isolate.
The court order will authorize law enforcement to detain the woman and take her to a facility for isolation, testing and treatment, health officials said.
It's rare for the health department to take legal action in these cases. Health officials say they try to work with the person first. If that doesn't work, they contact family members, friends or people in the community for help.
"This case is only the third time in the past 20 years the Health Department has had to seek a court order to detain a potentially contagious patient who refused treatment for TB," the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that can attack the lungs, brain and spine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 8,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the U.S. in 2021.