Court order forces man with rare strain of TB to stay in hospital

FENLAND District Council has obtained a court order that forces a patient suffering from a rare form of tuberculosis to stay in hospital, in a bid to protect the public and the sufferer.

The authority brought the case at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, and the court ordered homeless Tomas Balseris to remain under medical care for continued treatment.

Mr Balseris suffers from the drug resistant strain of TB, known as XDR-TB. and he wore a mask and spoke through an interpreter at the court hearing.

Fenland District Council declined to make any comment on the court case, except to say that they sought the order on behalf of the Health Protection Agency. Screening has already been offered to people who have been in prolonged contact with Mr Balseris.

A spokesman from the HPA said he could not give details of the application due to patient confidentiality, but said: “The most appropriate place for treatment is in hospital, and it is sometimes necessary to seek court support for that. Our advice would be that sufferers should be treated in hospital to prevent other people becoming infected.”

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A statement issued by the HPA said: “The Health Protection Agency East of England can confirm that a drug resistant strain of TB (XDR-TB) has been diagnosed in a patient who is receiving treatment at a Cambridgeshire hospital.

“The Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Protection Unit has been working with NHS Cambridgeshire to stop any further transmission of the illness and as a precaution has offered screening to those who have had close prolonged contact with the patient. Screening is a precaution and is a routine part of the management of TB cases.”

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Dr Kate King, Communicable Disease Control Doctor at the HPA’s Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Protection Unit, said: “Drug resistant TB is uncommon in the UK but is no more infectious than ordinary TB and like ordinary TB, is only infectious when it is in the lungs.

“However, it is more difficult to treat and takes longer to treat than ordinary TB. Successful treatment depends on a number of factors including the extent of the drug resistance, the severity of the disease and whether the patient has underlying health problems. As a result hospital treatment is necessary whilst the patient is still infectious.”

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