Rochdale man with TB forcibly detained

Date published: 09 October 2007

A man from Rochdale is being forcibly detained at North Manchester General Hospital to stop him spreading TB.

Rochdale Council took the unusual step of obtaining a court order forcing the man to stay in a specialist infectious disease unit to be treated for tuberculosis.

An order from Manchester Magistrates Court prevents him from leaving before 2 November – almost three months after a previous hearing banned him from going home.

Lawyers for the man plan to challenge any extension of the order using human rights legislation.

Health Protection Agency workers are tracing those who have come into contact with the man but stress it takes prolonged and close contact with a sufferer to contract the disease.

In a statement the council said: “Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council can confirm that we applied in August 2007 under Sections 37 and 38 of the Public Health Act (Control of Disease) 1984 for a patient to be removed to and detained in hospital. The patient is now undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. This action was taken with great regret and after considerable deliberation and consultation with our partner agencies Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Primary Care Trust, the Health Protection Agency’s Greater Manchester Health Protection Unit and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

"This action was taken as a last resort and in the interest of wider public health.

"On Friday 5 October 2007 we successfully sought an extension to the court order for a further 28 days.

"For reasons of patient confidentiality we do not propose to discuss this further."

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB can affect the lungs and other parts of the body. In some people, it can lead to serious complications and even death, especially if the body is weakened by other health problems.

In the UK, just over 6,000 cases of TB are reported each year, and this number is rising slowly. Every year, in the UK, about 500 people die from the disease.

TB is caught by breathing in droplets containing the bacteria, for example, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Anyone can get TB, but it's more likely if you already have another disease, don't eat well, or live in overcrowded or sub-standard housing.

Symptoms of active primary TB include:

  • A persistent cough - there may also be lots of phlegm, sometimes bloodstained.
  • Swollen glands, especially in the neck.
  • Tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Sweating at night.
  • Chest pain on breathing in, caused by inflammation of the membranes lining the lungs (pleurisy).

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