Health department seeking Clovis man for treatment

CNJ staff

The New Mexico Department of Public Health is looking for a man it believes needs isolated medical treatment.

Robert. J. Gutierrez, 45, of Clovis has been diagnosed with active pulmonary tuberculosis with cavitary lung disease.

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety issued a press release regarding Gutierrez Monday morning labeled “missing-endangered-caution person advisory.”

Gutierrez was last seen Friday in Clovis.

Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said Monday afternoon tips received by the department and checks of all known addresses and neighbors have proven unsuccessful so far.

The state’s department of public safety has a court order of protection stating Gutierrez needs to be found so that he can get the appropriate medical attention. A hearing would held if or when Gutierrez is found.

The missing persons report said Gutierrez should be presumed to be infectious and placed in airborne isolation.

Dr. Maggie Gallaher, medical director for the state’s public health division, said contraction risks are relatively low, but it’s better to take all precautions.

“It’s sometimes hard to diagnose,” Gallaher said. “We like to prevent the spread as much as possible.”

Gallaher said that tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can become airborne from coughing. But only 20 percent to 30 percent of people who live with an infected person develop latent tuberculosis — which is easily treated — and only 1 percent develop tuberculosis. The people most at risk would have a low immune system for other reasons (AIDS, diabetes, etc.).

An infection is not likely to develop from being in the same room or vehicle for a short amount of time, Gallaher said. If anybody is concerned about exposure, Gallaher said, they can talk to their doctor.

Gutierrez is described as a 5-foot-8 white Hispanic man weighing 176 pounds. People with information are asked to call 911 or the Curry County Sheriff’s Department at 769-2335.