Authorities in California are conducting a manhunt for a homeless man who is infected with a deadly form of tuberculosis. Prosecutors have issued a warrant to arrest Eduardo Rosas Cruz following what appears to be an intentional failure to receive treatment for is condition.
In March earlier this year, the 25-year-old Cruz went to emergency room of the San Joaquin General Hospital for a severe cough and was later diagnosed with tuberculosis. Cruz was told to stay in a motel room in Stockton where a health worker was supposed to bring him his medication and witness him take it but he did not comply.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease caused by bacteria that primarily affect the lungs and is transmitted through air when an infected person speaks, sneezes, sings or coughs. People who breathe in these bacteria can contract the disease. TB, which is characterized by cough that persists for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, presence of blood in sputum and weight loss, can be fatal if it is not treated.
Officials were prompted to seek a warrant to arrest Cruz, who is described to be a transient, as he came from a part of Mexico linked with cases of the drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Cruz is believed to be contagious and poses health risks to the public as he has not completed the nine-month course of treatment needed for his condition.
Alvaro Garza, a public health officer from the San Joaquin County in California, said that it is crucial to find Cruz given his condition. He said that they had difficulty looking for the fugitive and Cruz was not found in places that he said he was going to be. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said that Cruz could be in a homeless shelter.
"We're interested in this guy because he broke the orders of the health officer," Taylor told the Associated Press. "He could be in a homeless shelter. He could be around the corner from the courthouse."
The Stockton Police Department has already utilized social media to look for Cruz, a Hispanic who is described to weigh 130 pounds, stand 5 foot and 4 inches and has black hair and brown eyes. In a Facebook post, the police department urged the public to contact the authorities at (209) 468-3992 should they have information about Cruz's whereabouts.
Estimates from the World Health Organization show that about 8.6 million people worldwide contracted TB in 2012, 1.3 million of who have died.