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Teen with TB could be released from isolation next week

LAWRENCEVILLE - Authorities said a teen with tuberculosis could be released from isolation as early as Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Gwinnett County Health Department spokesman Vernon Goins said health authorities retrieved the first of three required negative sputum tests from 17-year-old Francisco Santos of Duluth this week.

"This is day number 25, and this is the first negative - things are looking up," Goins said.

Two more TB-clear mucus tests are needed from the teen to be released from court-ordered isolation at the Gwinnett County Jail.

The teen was diagnosed in August after going to Gwinnett Medical Center with complaints of losing weight and coughing up blood.

Santos was ordered into isolation Aug. 24 after he and his mother denied he had TB and threatened to leave for Mexico.

Goins said one sputum each was retrieved from Santos on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He said health authorities are waiting to hear the results of those tests, which typically take five or six days, before recommending release.

"Monday or Tuesday at the absolute earliest," Goins said of possible clearance from health authorities.

Upon discharge from isolation Santos will be turned over to immigration officials. The teen's and his mother's status in the United States has been under investigation by federal authorities since the 17-year-old was diagnosed with the disease.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesman Richard Rocha said the teen was interviewed by ICE investigators then an exploration into his and his mother's status in the United States began.

Rocha said Santos' mother voluntarily went to a local ICE office shortly after her son's isolation and admitted she and her son were in the country illegally. Authorities would not release Santos' mother's name.

"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," Rocha said.

Consul General of Mexico Remedios Gomez previously told the Post that the Mexican Consulate will ensure Santos and his mother return to Mexico safety. She said Mexican health authorities will make sure the teen follows the treatment that has been recommended by Gwinnett health officials.