LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – A Mexican teenager who was jailed after refusing treatment for tuberculosis will be deported along with his mother, officials said.
Francisco Santos, 17, and his mother, whose name was not released, will be deported to Mexico when Santos is released from court-ordered isolation at the Gwinnett County Jail.
"Once he is released by the Health Department he'll be in the hands of ICE, and we'll release him to his mother and they will both be deported," Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Richard Rocha said Tuesday.
County health officials jailed Santos last month after he refused treatment for an active, contagious case of tuberculosis and threatened to return to Mexico. Santos, who had been living in Duluth, has since started taking medicine but remains jailed.
Gwinnett County Health Department spokesman Vernon Goins said the Board of Health presented the teen and his mother with a consent form, which they signed, agreeing he would take the required nine months' worth of medication after he is released.
It will be up to Mexican authorities to make sure Santos is following the recommended medical plan once he leaves the country, Goins said.
Mexican Consul General Remedios Gomez said the consulate has been following Santos' case for the past few weeks.
As Santos and his mother prepare to go back to Mexico, Gomez said the consulate will make sure Santos returns safely, following the necessary precautions to travel.
"Health authorities in Mexico will make sure he continues the type of treatment he has to follow," Gomez said.
Authorities with the Gwinnett County Board of Health had been concerned the 17-year-old may have infected others living with him. A total of 13 family members, five of whom lived with Santos, were tested for tuberculosis. Four adults tested positive for the inactive, non-contagious form of the disease and are being treated, Goins said.
As of Tuesday, the Board of Health had tested all the people at risk of being infected, Goins said.
Santos' case in some ways echoed the case of Andrew Speaker, the Atlanta attorney who in May was held under a federal isolation order after he went on a European wedding trip and refused health officials' directives that he not take any commercial jets back to the United States.
Tuberculosis kills nearly 2 million people each year worldwide. Because of antibiotics and other measures, the TB rate in the United States has been falling for years. Last year, it hit an all-time low of 13,767 cases, or about 4.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.