A Washington state woman diagnosed with tuberculosis was taken into custody after over a year of refusing treatment or isolation.
The Tacoma woman is identified only as “VN” in court documents.
The local health department said she has been booked into a negative pressure room which is “specially equipped for isolation, testing, and treatment” at the Pierce County Jail, where she will reportedly still have to option to choose treatment.
She will be held in quarantine for no more than 45 days.
A judge issued a civil arrest warrant for the woman in March but she finally arrested on Thursday.
Health department officials asked the court to uphold its order for her involuntary detention over 17 hearings in which they argued they made “reasonable efforts” to gain her voluntary compliance for isolation or treatment.
Her reason for declining treatment is has not been disclosed, but court records show she did begin treatment at one point though stopped before it was completed.
Tuberculosis (also known as TB) is a bacterial infection that most commonly attacks the lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it can be fatal without treatment.
However, TB is much more difficult to spread than the cold or flu, typically requiring repeated and prolonged exposure in confined spaces for infection to occur.
Washington state law requires medical providers to report cases of tuberculosis to the local health department so they can be monitored.
VN’s attorney argued the woman’s “past behavior and interactions” suggest she does not fully understand the significance or “existence of her own medical condition.”
The attorney also said the jail does not meet the state’s own legal standards for long-term treatment of a tuberculosis patient.
The case marks the third time in two decades that the health department has sought a court order to detain someone for medical reasons.
The woman does not currently face any criminal charges.