court forces tb victim to hospital
Man with contagious disease is ordered to get treatment
A PATIENT suffering from a rare form of tuberculosis has been forced to stay in hospital for treatment to protect him and the public.
A special hearing was held at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday for Tomas Balseris, of no fixed abode, who suffers from a drug-resistant strain of TB, known as XDR-TB.
The case was brought by Fenland District Council and saw a security guard posted on the door to prevent the public from entering.
The man, who spoke through an interpreter, wore a white mask over his mouth and nose and was taken away by an ambulance outside the building after the case.
The court ordered that he stays in hospital for the purposes of continued treatment.
Fenland District Council refused to give details of where Mr Balseris was from or how his issue came to its attention but said the case was brought on behalf of the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
The HPA said it could not comment on the man’s case because of patient confidentiality.
But Dr Kate King, communicable disease control doctor at the HPA’S Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Protection Unit, said this was probably the only case in her area.
She said: “The resistance doesn’t make it any more infectious but we do need to make sure a person gets treatment and take steps to protect other people.
“A specialist unit on a hospital is the best place for treatment. If they won’t take our advice then as a last resort we can enforce admission to hospital.
“This strain of TB is still very rare in the UK but it is more wide- spread in some parts of the world particularly in eastern Europe and the former Soviet countries.
“There have been perhaps a handful of cases with lesser drug resistance in our area but from recollection I believe this is the first of this specific strain.”
A spokeswoman for the HPA added that although TB is not easy to catch precautions were in place to prevent the strain spreading.
The organisation is working with NHS Cambridgeshire to offer screening to anyone who has been in regular and prolonged contact with Mr Balseris.
Fenland District Councillor Ralph Butcher, portfolio holder for rural affairs and health and well-being, said he did not know the specifics.
But he added: “I’m clearly sorry to hear he has TB but I’m pleased to hear he will get treatment protecting him and the public.
“But it seems strange somebody wouldn’t want treatment.
“When I was a child there were lots of cases and we really don’t want TB to return like that.”