PHOENIX - A man who suffers from a multiple drug-resistant form of tuberculosis returned to Arizona after doctors treating him in Colorado said he is no longer infectious.
Robert Daniels, 28, arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon on a United Airlines flight from Denver, where doctors removed his left lung and continued to treat him with antibiotics.
"I feel great, actually," he said after his plane landed at Sky Harbor International Airport. "They took really good care of me."
National Jewish Medical and Research Center spokesman William Allstetter said tests show Daniels poses no threat to the public.
"Since he got here (July 17), he hasn't been infectious," Allstetter said. "He still probably harbors a few bugs somewhere down in his lung, but they're not getting out into his sputum and coughing out in the air."
Daniels was released Tuesday morning from the hospital. As part of an agreement between the state and county health officials, Daniels is to return to the care of the Maricopa County Public Health Department in Phoenix, Allstetter said.
Daniels came to America last year from Russia seeking treatment for his condition. After getting caught walking into a convenience store without a mask, health officials in Phoenix obtained a court order to lock Daniels in a county jail and keep him from infecting others.
"Where I come from, the doctors don't wear masks," Daniels told the AP earlier this year. "Plus, I was 26 years old, you know. Nobody told me how TB works and stuff."
At the time, doctors had diagnosed him with XDR-TB, an extensively drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis that is considered virtually untreatable. But Allstetter said Daniels is now considered to have multiple drug-resistant TB, a more manageable strain.
In July, Daniels was transferred to National Jewish, a leading treatment center for tuberculosis patients.
Daniels said he was sad to leave Colorado: "How can a person be excited about coming back to a place where he was imprisoned?"
While in jail in Phoenix, officers took away his television, radio, personal phone and computer. He wasn't allowed to shower.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Chagolla said Tuesday that Daniels is no longer in the sheriff's custody. But the sheriff's office continues to investigate whether he should be charged with public endangerment for appearing outside without a mask last year, Chagolla said.
"He's not in our custody, but he may be coming back," Chagolla said.
Nancy Turco, a friend of Daniels' who met him while working with the county's inmate health services, said county officials will escort Daniels to a hotel near downtown Phoenix where he'll continue his treatment.