21 Jan 09- A US judge in Champaign County Circuit ordered 20-year-old tuberculosis (TB) patient Clasance Botembe to be isolated for 30 days after health officials and prosecutors said he failed to take precautions to avoid spreading the disease. He could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if he defies the judge’s order.
Botembe, a native of Congo, was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis on December 1, 2008. A doctor ordered him immediately to treatment and isolation. When the Public Health District came to Botembe’s apartment for his therapy he had a visitor over and was not wearing a respirator mask. According to court papers, Botembe’s girlfriend got TB after being exposed to him.
After some deliberation about the patient’s privacy, Judge John Kennedy agreed to allow media access to the hearing in a conference room at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. N-95 respirator masks were handed to anyone entering the hearing.
The health district will arrange for Botembe to spend his isolation period in a hotel or motel and will pay for his rent, medication, food and the global positioning system device monitoring the patient’s movements.
Although this was the first case of its kind for Champaign, it is reminiscent of the TB case in May 2007 that sparked international public health uproar, where a lawyer, Andrew Speaker, infected with extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) flew on several international flights for his wedding and honeymoon. Speaker became the first person infected with TB to be put in isolation by order of the U.S. government since 1963.