California officials have issued an arrest warrant and are searching for 24-year-old Augustin Zeferino for discontinuing his treatment for a highly-contagious case of drug-resistant tuberculosis. They believe he is in Santa Barbara County.
“He has many ties in Santa Maria, which is the largest city in northernSanta Barbara County. He’s well-established here, we havevery strong reasons to believe he is still in the area,” said Dr. Charity Thoman, according to the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.
Zeferino reportedly discontinued treatment for the disease two weeks ago, according to Santa Barbara County Health Department Officials. TB can be cured with treatment, however, individuals like Zeferino who are infected with the active strand and drug-resistant genre of that disease are required by law to continue taking medication for18 to 24 months, notes CBS.
The fact that Zeferino discontinued his treatment before the required time frame to treat him makes his act a misdemeanor.
Although drug-resistant TB is difficult to treat, it is curable. The disease can be life-threatening, is highly contagious, and is easily spreadable through the air by coughing or sneezing, CBS notes.
“If Mr. Zeferino is contagious and he is out in our community, it is a public health emergency,” Dr. Thoman said.
Anyone with information on Zeferino’s whereabouts is asked to contact 911 immediately.