Police in California are on the lookout for a man who has been diagnosed with tuberculosis but is refusing treatment. A warrant has been issued for his arrest in the interest of protecting public health.
25-year-old Edwardo Rosas Cruz was diagnosed with tuberculosis in March after going to the emergency room for a persistent cough. He also complained of a fever and of weight loss. With no fixed address, Cruz was instructed to stay in a hotel room where he would receive the necessary medication. Instead, he disappeared.
Tuberculosis is a disease that results from a bacterial infection, most commonly occurring in the lungs. Those with immune systems capable of preventing the bacteria from reproducing can live with an inactive form of tuberculosis for years without problems. However, if the bacteria multiply and symptoms develop, the disease becomes highly contagious. It can be spread if an infected person coughs, sneezes or even speaks in some cases.
Treatment for tuberculosis is a lengthy process that can take six to nine months of strict adherence to medical interventions. If treatment is ineffective or not followed properly, remaining bacteria can become resistant to further treatments.
It is this resistance to treatment that has largely fueled public health concerns enough to get a warrant in Rosas Cruz’s case. He is known to originate from an area in Mexico where a resistant form of the bacteria has been identified.
Officials state that the purpose of the warrant is to protect the health of the people who might come in contact with Rosas Cruz. They do not intend to prosecute him for any crimes, only to treat him and prevent the disease from spreading.