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A man who spit on a nurse was charged with attempted murder because he has hepatitis C, but the charge was later lowered to assault.

An Alaskan man faced an attempted murder charge Tuesday after allegedly spitting on a female hospital worker.

Andre LaFrance was slapped with the serious offense because he has hepatitis C, a contagious virus that infects the liver, according to authorities.

State troopers in Palmer, Alaska, say the 29-year-old "intentionally transferred a dangerous bodily fluid" onto the hospital employee at the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. According to the Anchorage Daily News, he had been admitted to the hospital claiming to have suffered a drug overdose.

Medical personnel determined he had not overdosed, and wanted to release him.

The man "claimed to be suicidal and wanted to hurt or kill himself," Alaska State Trooper Ryan Mattingley told the Anchorage newspaper. "Staff was attempting to restrain him until troopers could arrive. Andre stated he would spit on the staff if placed in restraints."

A nurse attached restraints to LaFrance, which is when he allegedly spit on the woman knowing it could make her sick, police said.

Hepatitis C is generally contagious through blood, but the likelihood of someone catching the virus through saliva is low.

Although authorities initially charged him with attempted second-degree murder, it was later downgraded to third-degree assault in court.

Described as "very, very unstable," LaFrance is under a suicide watch at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, said Corrections Sgt. Walter Erickson.

Because of his illness, authorities have been very cautious in dealing with the Wasilla, Alaska, man. Officers may employ a spit-hood on LaFrance if necessary, and can maintain a safe distance from him in his cell, Erickson said.

Charges filed against LaFrance also include harassment. Bail initially was set at $50,000, but has since been reduced to $2,500, according to officials.

LaFrance has a lengthy criminal history in Alaska, according to state records and Erickson.

"He's not a first-timer to the system," he said.

James Gould, LaFrance's attorney in that case, said his client recently mentioned being in the Mat-Su hospital, but did not identify his condition.