SAN MATEO COUNTY: Cracks Down on TB Patients Who Resist Treatment
San Mateo County will begin incarcerating tuberculosis patients who refuse treatment and thereby place others at risk of contracting the airborne disease. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Cordilleras Mental Health Center near Redwood City will house the offenders, expected to number only a fraction of the 4,500 Californians who contract tuberculosis each year. Scott Morrow, the county's chief health officer, explained that the policy complies with a state law permitting the incarceration of tuberculosis patients "to ensure public health." Morrow noted that the program targets "people who can't quite get with the program" -- typically substance abusers or the mentally ill. Cordilleras will open its doors to noncompliant TB patients "from San Luis Obispo to the Oregon border." The Chronicle reports that the move comes as tuberculosis "is on the rise in San Mateo County:" infections soared from 32 cases in 1985 to 82 in 1998, due in part to the immigrant population who harbor "the majority of infections" (Wilson, 1/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.