Things that make me say “Hm.”

I heard about this briefly on the radio yesterday afternoon.

STOCKTON (AP) – A judge has refused to release a tuberculosis patient who was jailed and charged after allegedly refusing to take medication to keep his disease from becoming contagious.

San Joaquin County Judge Brett Morgan on Wednesday denied 34-year-old Armando Rodriguez’s request for release.

The Record of Stockton reports the judge said he was uncomfortable releasing Rodriguez because of his methamphetamine and alcohol use and past behavior.

And at first, of course, I got all outraged: “You’re keeping a guy in jail without due process because he wouldn’t take his meds? You see nothing wrong with that?” Because that’s pretty much my default reaction to anything.

The meth and the booze, I don’t care about. Kill yourself any way you want. Hey, I can go full Scrooge. Go ahead and reduce the surplus population, druggie.

But locking a guy up for refusing to take pills? Normally my reaction to that is pretty unambiguous.

And then reality set in. Cue the internal dialogue:

Wait now. Here’s a guy who can pretty much kill people by breathing on them, and he steadfastly refuses to do anything about it.

Normally, steadfastly refusing to do stuff gets a big thumbs-up from me.

But that’s going too far, ethically.

Yet when do I start getting a vote about what’s “too far?”

Answer: When you’re hurting or threatening other people.

Well…yeah…

They already tried to get him to take free meds, and he wouldn’t do it. You gonna start shooting people with TB in the head, when they refuse treatment or quarantine? Your mother probably died of TB, Joel, and it took her years to do it. (ed note: Exactly what killed my mother is uncertain. Long story.) How many other people you gonna wish that on?

Yeah, but…jail?

They don’t have TB wards any more. And there’s no ethical difference between that and jail, the difference is purely esthetic. The door’s still locked.

Full disclosure, as if you didn’t already know: I spend most of my waking hours thinking I have all the answers. Cases involving involuntary quarantine or forced medical treatment for deadly contagious diseases slap me upside the head and remind me that that’s not so.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Things that make me say “Hm.”

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    The problem is, Joel, that TB is not that terribly contagious. It cannot be spread simply by breathing on someone. As a nurse, I worked with TB patients for many years and never had any problems. Many times we did not know the patient was infected until a great deal of exposure had occurred.

    Yes, infection can happen, but it’s not any more automatic than walking into a room with an AIDs patient. It requires close contact over quite a bit of time, and usually unsafe practices such as sharing toothbrushes, and generally unsanitary conditions. TB is spread more easily in crowded, poorly ventilated and unheated environments, not modern housing or hospitals.

    People who contract TB are most likely also to be poorly nourished and have substance abuse problems, as well as poverty.

    The fear of TB is a holdover from an era where the conditions were ripe for all kinds of infections, and isolation was one of the few tools they had to work with.

    These people are using lies and hype to incarcerate this man, not medical science.

  2. Joel says:

    Okay, remove “breathing” and insert “sneezing.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    Statistically TB is not “that” contagious. But what this means is just sitting beside someone with TB for an hour will only infect 1 out of 10 people. So the nurse is right and the judge is right. This guy is a walking typhoid Mary and needs to be held until cured. TB used to be a serious disease today it is a death sentence for over a million a year. Most of these deaths are people who sat next to someone with TB for less then an hour. TB is making a huge comeback. It isn’t to the serious stage in this country “yet” but without measures like what this judge did it will be.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Joel,
    Sneezing directly on people may bring some hazards, especially like ML said if those others are weakened to begin with. Even then it is hard to catch unless someone spouts fluids right in your eye. A possibility, yes but a remote one.
    On the question of someone leaving mucus on a door handle or something; TB doesn’t survive very long on no porous surfaces.
    Even if you did pick up live bacilli from a door or table top you aren’t likely to become infected unless have a habit of sucking your fingers or rub your eyes with it.
    TB is a mesophile and likes warm, moist but no too hot or cold surfaces and it isn’t fond of UV light.

    Evelyn’s brother had full blown TB and refused to do anything about it until he was half dead.
    I spent a good deal of time in a very small house and in closed vehicles with him. I have never tested positive for TB nor has anyone else who actually lived full time with him.
    I think there is still a good amount of herd immunity.

    Still, there are nasty things out there that ARE really contagious. What do we do if this case was about one of them?

    Buck.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joel,
    Sneezing directly on people may bring some hazards, especially like ML said if those others are weakened to begin with. Even then it is hard to catch unless someone spouts fluids right in your eye. A possibility, yes but a remote one.
    On the question of someone leaving mucus on a door handle or something; TB doesn’t survive very long on no porous surfaces.
    Even if you did pick up live bacilli from a door or table top you aren’t likely to become infected unless have a habit of sucking your fingers or rub your eyes with it.
    TB is a mesophile and likes warm, moist but no too hot or cold surfaces and it isn’t fond of UV light.

    Evelyn’s brother had full blown TB and refused to do anything about it until he was half dead.
    I spent a good deal of time in a very small house and in closed vehicles with him. I have never tested positive for TB nor has anyone else who actually lived full time with him.
    I think there is still a good amount of herd immunity.

    Still, there are nasty things out there that ARE really contagious. What do we do if this case was about one of them?

    Buck.

  6. Tam says:

    As I have learned to my chagrin, when you say “Well, I’m not sure I have the answer to this one,” they will tear the epaulettes right off your wookie suit.

  7. MamaLiberty says:

    There are a great many things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves and our dependents from any infectious disease. Avoidance of seedy, sick looking strangers might be a good start…

    I just happen to believe that such things as cages and coercion of people who might be potential sources of that infection are not a good answer.

    Yes, it might be AN answer… but it is not a good one for anyone who loves freedom.

    Defend yourself, absolutely. But cages? And at someone else’s expense?

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are new strains spreading. They are more deadly than ever and there is no treatment as yet. Years ago people were decent in their behaviors and accepted being quarantined. Not so these days. No sense of personal responsibility. Lot of TB in people who are suffering from other diseases that effect the thought processes. If one is aware of another who has TB and won’t allow treatment, then what are you going to do? Let yourself get sick, your kid, your wife? My mother in law (in her later 70’s) is a good and beautiful person…she is dieing from a lung ailment that was first diagnosed as TB, but is now not a typical TB…has some other name…some bs name…but it is a strain a lot of immigrants from down south are known to carry. She did nothing wrong to contact the disease. She takes meds for the last 2 years, and sits at home in misery. She gets no better. People get sick with contagious diseases and won’t be responsible for their behavior and infect others. Screw them. And, say what you want about how easy or not easy it is to spread TB or HIV….maybe you should compare what private labs have determined versus public laboratories. You might change your minds.

  9. Anonymous says:

    At one time immigrants had to be tested for diseases and were quarantined for a few days or weeks if they were sick. The obvious purpose was to protect the citizens. Our government has inverted this relationship. Many protections are in place for immigrants, legal and illegal and screw the citizens/taxpayers. For example did you know leprosy is making a comeback. It was imported to us from 3rd world countries and your government knows this and ignores it. Just try and find information about it in the MSM. Some states have gone from zero cases a year to 800 cases a year.

To the stake with the heretic!