Prosecutors in Northern California said yesterday they have obtained an arrest warrant for a tuberculosis patient who has refused treatment and may be contagious. Eduardo Rosas Cruz, a 25-year-old transient, went to the San Joaquin General Hospital's emergency room in March complaining of a severe cough. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, medical staff told him to stay in a Stockton motel room, where a health worker would deliver his medication and watch him take it. But officials say he took off. County health officials asked prosecutors to seek the warrant, in part, because Rosas Cruz comes from a part of Mexico known for its drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.
Catching tuberculosis requires extended contact with a contagious person, said San Joaquin County's public health officer, Dr. Alvaro Garza, adding that it is unclear if Rosas Cruz is contagious. Rosas Cruz needs a nine-month regime of medicine, which Alvaro said the patient is not near to completing. "If you stop taking it, it comes roaring back," Alvaro said. In court papers filed in support of the warrant, public health officials say Rosas Cruz resisted treatment from the start. He also uses crack cocaine and methamphetamine, officials said. (Read more tuberculosis stories.)