A woman in Washington state could end up in jail after refusing treatment for her tuberculosis and ignoring multiple court orders to stay in isolation.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced last week that it was monitoring the case of the county woman who willfully violated court orders and put other people at risk by walking around with an active case of tuberculosis.

Authorities said the court orders were issued in response to the woman’s refusal of treatment and isolation, putting the community at risk of contracting the disease.

“Most people we contact are happy to get the treatment they need. Occasionally, people refuse treatment and isolation. When that happens, we take steps to help keep the community safe,” said Communicable Disease Control division director Nigel Turner.

The issue against the woman has been going on for more than a year. Local officials admitted that it’s been a long-standing challenge to make the woman follow the orders.

Documents filed in the Pierce County Superior Court indicated that the first court order for her involuntary isolation was dated Jan. 19, 2022, as per The News Tribune.

Authorities reached their breaking point last month when the unnamed woman got into a car accident as a passenger, displaying her negligence of the orders for her isolation. Her action put the driver at risk of contracting tuberculosis since they were in a confined space with close contact.

The woman also reportedly visited the emergency room, where she was examined without telling the medical staff that she had an active tuberculosis case. When doctors saw her chest x-rays, they initially thought she had cancer.

The health department also noted that the woman had tested positive for COVID-19, confirming that she had not been isolating and keeping her distance from other people despite the court orders.

The court has since renewed the order and now demands the woman to fully comply, or she could face measures, such as having electronic home monitoring in place or getting detained in Pierce County jail, Ars Technica reported.

"We assess that balance between restricting somebody’s liberty and protecting the health of the community. We also want to make sure that we have time for the person to comply and try lots of different options that are short of requiring somebody to be detained," Turner explained.

He added, "Incarceration detention is the very, very last option that we want to take and we don’t do that lightly. But occasionally that becomes necessary if there is a risk to the public."

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by germs spread from person to person through the air. Though it commonly affects the lungs, the disease is also known to impact other organs, including the kidneys, spine and brain, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Based on the latest statistical data, a total of 7,860 tuberculosis cases were provisionally reported to the CDC’s National Tuberculosis Surveillance System from 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2021.

TB is usually confirmed by an X-ray of the lungs after a positive skin test in Americans. People who are vaccinated in other parts of the world always test positive by skin test. Reuters