Tulsa County resident dies of Turberculosis

Thursday, May 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tuberculosis is almost 100% curable. So, how is it that a Tulsa County person died from the disease last week? As the News on 6's Steve Berg reports, it's only 100% curable, if they patient receives "treatment."

The Tulsa City-County Health Department confirms the deceased patient was diagnosed nearly a year ago and refused treatment. "People certainly have the right to decide for themselves whether they're going to accept treatment or not."

But the Health Department's Janice Sheehan says by law, the person "does" have to be quarantined. "It's an isolation order is what it is, and they are to remain there until either the body heals itself which in very, very rare instances that has happened, or until the person dies." Sheehan says the Health Department made unannounced visits at least once a month.

Beyond that, it's simply the person's word on whether they comply with the isolation order. "I feel very confident that that was not broken, and that they did want to do what was under the law the legal thing to do." The death was only brought to our attention by an anonymous caller, who said they patient refused treatment for religious reason.

The Health Department would not confirm that for privacy reasons. They obviously wish the person had accepted treatment, but they can't force them too. "It's frustrating but that's part of the job, but then also I realize that people do have rights to make their own choices.”

In most cases, Tuberculosis is only contagious when there are obvious symptoms. Those include loss of weight, loss of appetite, fatigue, and a bad cough.