Mumps and Other Infectious Diseases Know No Borders
CNN is reporting that almost 200 people housed in immigration detention facilities across Texas have contracted mumps. Prior to 1968 mumps was common in the United States but a nationwide vaccination program reduced the number of cases from approximately 186,000 per year, to fewer than 2,000. While rarely fatal, mumps can cause particularly serious complications in adults, including meningitis, pancreatitis and encephalitis.
Public health officials should be preparing for other, more seriousoutbreaks. Whether they are or not is unclear. Due to fears of being branded“xenophobic” most government agencies are reluctant to discuss the publichealth implications of the current border crisis. And reputable researchorganizations in the private sector seem to have surrendered scientificobjectivity in favor of political correctness, regularly advancing claims thatthere is absolutely no association between migrants and disease.
For example, NBC Newsrecently quoted Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Paul Spiegel, who claims that “migrants are less likely than people in their host countries to die of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other ills” but more likely to die of hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV. According to Dr. Spiegel, any claim that uncontrolled migration contributes to disease “…is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out.”
However, even a casual readershould get the sense that Dr. Spiegel isbeing disingenuous, if not simply contradicting himself. Heart disease, cancerand respiratory ailments like asthma aren’t communicable – you simply can’tcatch cancer from someone else. Hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV, on the otherhand, are all communicable diseases spread by human interaction.
In fact, the United States has already experienced a tuberculosis outbreak that affected 300 refugees in Minnesota. And truthful observers of migration trends have noted the re-emergence of rare infections in Germany, following the rapid influx of Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants, as well as the high incidence of tuberculosis observed by Tijuana health officials treating migrant caravan members.
The negative public health effects of uncontrolled mass migration are likely to continue: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that its personnel are referring an average of 55 migrants per day to hospitals, resulting “in a taxpayer cost of $98 million.” The large influx of sick migrants is placing an added burden on CBP officers and negatively impacting healthcare facilities in the remote, rural areas where most Border Patrol stations are located.
The emergence of public health crisis tied to unchecked mass migration is rapidly transforming from a possibility into a probability. If we don’t take the threat seriously, it’s only a matter of time before a migrant inadvertently causes an outbreak of a highly contagious ailment like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or influenza. And that could have disastrous consequences if it were to spread through a sizeable American city within easy reach of the border, like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix or San Diego.