US woman has walked around with untreated TB for over a year, now faces jail

The court issued an order for involuntary isolation, but it did little good. The woman continued to refuse treatment and isolation, according to an order issued on January 26, 2022. The order was renewed on February 14, 2022—and then again on February 24, and again on March 24, April 19, May 17, June 28, July 27, August 25, September 27, October 21, November 18, and December 16.

According to a supplemental court document filed by the health department on January 11, the woman had been in the car accident as a passenger—meaning she had not been in isolation at home where she was meant to be and was in close contact with the driver, who would have been at risk of contracting tuberculosis during such close, confined contact.

Additionally, she went to the emergency department the day after the crash complaining of chest pain and failed to tell her treating physicians about her active tuberculosis case, putting them and other hospital staff at risk, too. When they performed X-rays of her chest and saw the state of her lungs, they initially suspected she had cancer. But in fact, the X-rays revealed that her tuberculosis case was worsening.

Moreover, she also tested positive for COVID-19, “which also strongly suggests that she is not isolating as per this court’s order,” the health department’s court filing said.

Wow…just wow. I started reading this article fully intending to feel some sort of sympathy for this sick woman, but I just can’t. This is a level of willful defiance of both common sense and decency that borders on maliciousness.


Typhoid Mary was the same way.


While the collective, and the state, do bear some blame for the general lack of a good social safety net, not a big fan of this here plague-spreading enthusiast who didn’t even attempt treatment or make use of the (limited, but still there) safety net and social supports. Tuberculosis still kills 1,500,000 people worldwide despite attempts at mass-vaccination.

American TB is probably 5-20 years from becoming resistant to anti-biotics, and when the day of resistant TB comes, it’ll come in a storm of fury: pretty much no americans - or canadians - are vaccinated against it.


I have thought a lot with this intersection of personal freedom and disease care as it relates to mental health, because we do affect others, and I think have responsibilities toward each other. Is it possible to take a compassionate approach toward this person? If they were to isolate, for example, how would they support themself? How would they access care?

They are aware of their illness and the need to isolate. What is behind them not participating in protecting others?

Are the supports there for them are is it all punishment?


Unfortunately, the article lacks any details regarding that. If they wanted to comply with the order but couldn’t due to some sort of hardship, I can more easily understand and sympathize. Without additional context, I’m left to assume that the defiance is willful. I’m also not sure that imprisonment is the right remedy to this issue. Depriving people of their freedom when they need help doesn’t seem like it would ever work. I hope that individuals more familiar with policy and situations like this could come up with better solutions.


Even if imprisonment were the “right” remedy (from a moral/ethical view), can they effectively quarantine her in prison? And treat her properly? If not, it is pretty stupid just because of the possibility of infecting guards and other prisoners. A better solution would be confinement to an isolated ward in a hospital, on a course of (possibly) involuntary treatment until she’s cured of it. Of course, the involuntary bit goes against the “personal freedom” stuff that is endemic in the US. If only we could treat that.

I have a latent case of TB, probably due to many international meetings stuck in a conference room 8 hrs/day for four day, with people from all over. Also probably due to being on immunosuppressants. It’s not infective; e.g., my wife has tested negative. The usual treatment is 4 months of rifampin, which (aside from the usual side effects from powerful antibiotics) screws up treatment for other conditions. Going on it would require me to fiddle with about 3 or 4 drugs, including my antiseizure meds. Needless to say I’m hesitating to go on it, but I probably will have to at some point. After I get some other meds worked out, that is. :roll_eyes:



I was thinking that she must be in terrible pain if her lungs are that bad on the X-ray.


She’s still on the loose


Hopefully she follows through on the treatment, and everyone can be safer for it.


I won’t hold my breath (unless I’m in the same room with her).