So Tuberculosis is officially my new favorite disease... Hope this news doesn't ruin your morning!
TUBERCULOSIS, XDR - SOUTH AFRICA (11): FUGITIVES
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Sun 30 Sep 2007
Source: IOL (Independent Online, South Africa) [edited]
A hunt is on for 2 patients with a deadly form of tuberculosis who
disappeared after the Cape High Court ordered they return to Brooklyn
Chest hospital. The pair, diagnosed with extremely drug resistant
(XDR) tuberculosis, are presumed by health department officials to be
in hiding. Their disappearance has sparked fears about the risk they
pose to their families and communities because their strain of TB is
not only potentially lethal, but also contagious.
Initially 4 XDR-TB patients absconded from the hospital to return to
their families. One of them was photographed near his home holding
his 2-year-old daughter and apparently coughing over her. After
failed attempts to persuade them to return to the hospital, the
health department won an urgent interdict in the Cape High Court on
Friday [28 Sep 2007] to insist that the 4 go back to hospital. The
authorities went to fetch the patients and 2 were readmitted on
Friday [28 Sep 2007] night. But Health MEC (Member of the Executive
Council) Pierre Uys told Weekend Argus the other 2 had "completely
disappeared." He said authorities, including the Sheriff of the Court
and the police, had searched all night with no luck. "Unfortunately,
only 2 have been isolated. It is clear that the other 2 might be in
hiding, which poses a danger to their communities." He said
authorities would continue the search.
City executive director for health Dr Ivan Toms said he understood
both patients would return to hospital tomorrow [1 Oct 2007], but
that officials would do their best to have them in isolation as soon
as possible. In the meantime, the City is leading a TB testing system
in the communities of the 4 patients. Toms said immediate family and
others who had come into regular contact with them would be tested.
The interdict allows the health department to forcibly return the 4
patients to the hospital and keep them there until they have tested
sputum negative, meaning they could no longer infect others, for 3
consecutive months. The entire process could take more than a year.
Faiza Steyn, spokesperson for the health department, said the
interdict barred the media from divulging the identities of the 4
patients. One patient, from Uitsig, told a daily newspaper earlier
this week that despite his concerns about his business, he had agreed
to voluntarily return to Brooklyn Chest on Monday [1 Oct 2007].
Questions have also been raised over the possible infringement of the
patients' human rights. A senior health department official, who
asked not to be named, said the case would "spark legal and ethical
debate" over the rights of patients. "We are facing a dilemma -- the
freedoms of the individual versus the rights of the community not to
be infected. "In this case, the right of the individual has been
curtailed, but the rights of the people, especially those who are
vulnerable such as children, have been protected," the official said.
Human Rights Commission CEO Tseliso Thipanyane said the HRC (Human
Rights Commission) was "rightly concerned" about the welfare of the
patients. "TB is a highly infectious disease and with this strain
there is no easy cure. Therefore, you have to protect the rights of
others. "What also has to be looked at is the issue surrounding their
stay at the hospital. It is relevant to their human rights whether
they are getting proper health care, and whether their relatives have
access to them," said Thipanyane.
[Byline: Leila Samodien]