The tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children streaming across the US-Mexico border are bringing more than dreams of a better life with them. Some are carrying deadly diseases such as tuberculosis and parasites like scabies and lice, despite what some officials on site say.
The number of sick children is so great that observers have labeled the situation a “public health crisis.”
“The amount of tuberculosis is astonishing,” an anonymous source at detention facility Lackland Air Force Base in Texas told Fox News. “The nurses are telling us the kids are really sick. The tuberculosis is definitely there.”
Fox News said the source was a “healthcare provider” at a facility run by Baptist Child & Family Services (BCFS). The source claimed that many children were exhibiting classic symptoms of tuberculosis including coughing, spitting up blood and chest pain.
Is Presence Of Tuberculosis Being Covered Up?
Representatives of BCFS claimed there was no tuberculosis in the facility at Lackland just outside San Antonio. Fox News, though, said that half a dozen anonymous sources, including nurses, said the disease was present at the facility.
Three cases of tuberculosis have been reported at Lackland, according to Texas Health and Human Service Commissioner David Lakey. In testimony before a committee of the Texas State House, Lakey expressed concern about conditions at detention facilities.
“My concern with the cramped conditions is if someone came in with a norovirus, like you see on a cruise line,” Lakey said.
A norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that can infect anybody around the sick person, and spreads quickly because every surface the infected person touches – such as doorknobs – also are affected. Noroviruses kill between 570 and 800 people a year in the United States.
Border Patrol Agents Wearing Masks
Some members of the Border Patrol are so concerned about sickness among the migrants that they’re wearing masks. The children come from poor Central American nations like Honduras and Guatemala, where families lack access to healthcare. Many of the children have never seen a doctor or been vaccinated for diseases.
Border Patrol agents were seen wearing surgical masks when they processed some immigrant children at the Chula Vista Border Patrol station outside San Diego, TV station Channel 10 reported. Around 40 immigrants were being quarantined there, and another 10 immigrants were taken to local hospitals.
Antibiotic-Resistant Tuberculosis A Possible Threat
Tuberculosis is a serious respiratory disease caused by a bacteria that spreads through the air from person to person. Most cases of tuberculosis or TB can be cured with antibiotics, but there are also potentially deadly strains of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.
“Some of the tuberculosis that comes from Central America is drug-resistant,” Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, told Fox News. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is more common in developing nations like those in Central America where many people improperly treat the disease with antibiotics bought over the counter.
Tuberculosis is more likely to spread in cramped facilities like the one at Lackland Air Force Base, Siegel noted.
Cover Up Alleged
“TB is the real problem here,” a person identified as a “nurse” told Fox News.
Another source told Fox News that several other communicable diseases are spreading through the Lackland facilities.
Still another source said children had chicken pox, measles, strep throat and lice.
BCFS claims there were 119 cases of lice among 7,000 children at the facility, but the sources had a different story.
“They are lying,” a nurse said “We treated that many kids with lice on a given day. We would put 20 kids in front of us – 10 in each row. You could see the bugs crawling through their hair.”
Double Standard For Legal And Illegal Immigrants Alleged
The government is ignoring US law by allowing immigrants with certain diseases and no vaccines to enter the country, Siegel said. He was upset because legal immigrants such as his wife have to get public health screenings but illegal immigrants do not.
Persons diagnosed with tuberculosis, cholera and some strains of leprosy are specifically barred from entering the US, Siegal wrote. Federal law also mandates that immigrants be vaccinated for a number of diseases, including measles and mumps.
Siegel also claimed that between 10 and 25 percent of the immigrants in the detention facilities have scabies, a skin disease spread by insects. At least one child at Lackland has also been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus or swine flu, he said.
“It is clear that a public health crisis on a grand scale is occurring, and that the Centers for Disease Control needs to be directly involved,” Siegel wrote. “When these immigrants leave the camps and get on buses and trains, they spread disease to other states.”
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