Diseases considered virtually eradicated a decade ago are making a comeback in the United States. Diseases making an appearance in hospitals across the county include those such as tuberculosis, malaria, and leprosy as well as some once confined to third world countries such as West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever.
Most of these diseases are prevalent in the states along the border with Mexico where illegal immigrants enter the country. In El Paso, for example, tuberculosis cases are double the national average. But not every state seeing these rises in formally controlled diseases is near a border. The top ten states where people are most likely to contract a rare disease include more than 42 percent of our nation’s population.
Arizona: In spite of Arizona’s determination to crack down on illegal border crossings, there is still a steady flow of undocumented immigrants crossing the border into the state. West Nile Virus entered the United States in 1999 and spread rapidly across the nation. Over the last few years, Arizona has been hard hit with a dangerous strain of this once exotic virus.
California: In 2009, an outbreak of typhoid fever affected ninety Californians along with 400 cases nationwide. Typhoid was a well-known killer of a bygone age, taking the lives of notables such as first ladies Abigail Adams and Mary Todd Lincoln. Globally, the disease still kills over 200,000 people annually and is very resistant to antibiotics.
Colorado: People are at a higher risk of contracting Hantavirus here than in other state. Hantavirus, which can lead to a deadly respiratory infection, is spread through rodent waste. Most people get it by drinking from contaminated containers or by inhaling dust in buildings with rodent infestations.
Delaware: Delaware tops the list for Lyme disease cases.
Florida: Sixty-six cases of Dengue fever were reported in the Sunshine State last year. Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes and until very recently was found most often in more tropical regions like India and the South Pacific.
Illinois: Chagas disease infects you with a parasite that attacks your organs and is normally found in Central and South America. The disease is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic heart disease and most U.S. doctors have never seen it.
New Mexico: 75 percent of all reported cases of bubonic plague were in New Mexico.
New York: Both measles and mumps are on the rise in New York.
Oklahoma: 2,000 people a year contract Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Over one third of those cases were in Oklahoma.
Texas: Approximately 150 new cases of leprosy are diagnosed in this border state each year. Travelers and illegal immigrants bring in some cases, but in Texas armadillos, also carry the bacteria that trigger the disease.