National Hispanic Heritage Month: Agustin Zeferino

(I had pre-written cases for September 30 and October 1, using the app on my phone. I didn’t realize until very late on October 1 that neither of them went up, and in fact they seem to have vanished. I need to stop using that app to try to write entries; it never seems to work well. I am trying to reconstruct the entries from memory.)

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Agustin Zeferino, who disappeared from Santa Barbara County, California on August 11, 2014. He was a farm worker, probably a migrant.

Zeferino’s case is kind of unusual and scary because he was undergoing treatment for drug-resistant¬†tuberculosis¬†at the time of his disappearance, and he was supposed to take medication for up to two years.

Although he was asymptomatic and not contagious at the time of his disappearance, since he disappeared he’s obviously stopped the treatments and he would have become contagious again and started developing symptoms again. As Zeferino’s disease is a threat to public health, a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Without treatment, about there’s about a 50-50 chance that tuberculosis will kill you, unless you’re HIV positive that is, in which case it’s extremely lethal. The illness kills slowly; untreated, about one-third of patients die within two years and another third within five years. The person is ambulatory for most of that time — I think Edgar Allen Poe’s wife went dancing the same night her TB finally killed her — and spreading it everywhere they go.

I really really hope Zeferino is okay and just moved on, and that he has resumed his treatments wherever he is now, perhaps in another country. Because if he didn’t resume his treatment, he’s probably dead now, and he’s probably made other people sick.