Teen Jailed For Refusing TB Treatment Gets Released

Friday, September 28th 2007, 7:40 am
By: News On 6

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ A Mexican teenager who was jailed after refusing treatment for tuberculosis was released after health officials determined he was no longer contagious and is awaiting deportation.

Francisco Santos, 17, is recuperating at his home in Duluth, health officials said Thursday.

Santos was released Wednesday into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation to Mexico, according to jail records.

ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said he believed Santos would remain in the custody of his mother, Enriqueta Palacios, until both are deported, which could take four to six weeks.

A hearing is scheduled for Santos and his mother on Nov. 8 in Atlanta, said Elaine Komis, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office For Immigration Review.

Gwinnett County Health Department spokesman Vernon Goins said officials recommended releasing Santos after three tests this week came back negative.

``We've been giving him his daily medications at his home,'' he said. ``He's still responding to treatment, and he's not considered contagious anymore.''

Four of Santos' relatives, who remain in Gwinnett County, are being treated for tuberculosis but are not contagious, Goins said.

County health officials jailed Santos in August after he refused treatment for an active, contagious case of tuberculosis and threatened to return to Mexico.

Tuberculosis kills nearly 2 million people each year worldwide. Because of antibiotics and other measures, the TB rate in the United States has been falling for years. Last year, it hit an all-time low of 13,767 cases, or about 4.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.