Marysville Jail (City of Marysville)

Man with hepatitis C accused of spitting on Marysville jail staff

Hepatitis C is usually spread through blood. The suspect, 28, faces allegations of exposing the officers to a contagious disease.

MARYSVILLE — A man held at the Marysville Jail on Friday asked staff what he could do to get transferred to the Snohomish County Jail in Everett, according to police.

“If I assault an officer, will it get me to Snohomish County Jail?” he reportedly asked.

The man, 28, was housed in Marysville on misdemeanor allegations, including investigation of possession of drug paraphernalia and trespassing, jail records show.

Around 4:30 p.m. Friday, shortly after asking the question, the Marysville man spat on two jail officers, police reported. The saliva hit one officer’s lip and glasses. It hit another officer’s face, as well. Staff put the suspect in isolation.

There was one catch. The man had acknowledged having hepatitis C in a questionnaire when he was booked into jail Nov. 19.

Hepatitis C is a contagious virus usually spread through contaminated blood, shared needles or sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency estimated there were upward of 57,000 acute cases in 2019. More than half of people who contract the virus will develop a chronic infection, which can lead to liver damage.

Because of this, the man got his wish, being moved to the Snohomish County Jail, but with additional allegations. On top of the existing misdemeanor charges, police added two counts each of investigation of third-degree assault of a police officer and exposing a contagious disease, both also misdemeanors.

State law states that “every person who shall willfully expose himself or herself to another, or any animal affected with any contagious or infectious disease, in any public place or thoroughfare, except upon his or her or its necessary removal in a manner not dangerous to the public health; and every person so affected who shall expose any other person thereto without his or her knowledge, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Authorities took blood samples from the two officers who the man allegedly spat on to test for hepatitis C. A judge also approved a warrant to get the suspect’s blood.

Studies suggest the virality of saliva in people with hepatitis C is low, however. It is not spread by sharing utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, sneezing or through food and water, according to the CDC.

The suspect remained in the jail Monday with bail set at $14,000.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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