In medical isolation in South Texas, 100 miles or so from Mexico’s border, is a man who embodies the U.S.’s greatest health threat – the first illegal alien, that we know of, who attempted to sneak into this country infected with one of the most severe types of drug resistant tuberculosis known to man.
His three-month odyssey, through 13 countries, beginning from his homeland of Nepal, through South Asia, Brazil, Mexico into Texas, shows how dangerous new strains of diseases can enter our homeland. Luckily this man was apprehended as he tried to illegally cross the border near McAllen, Texas.
Tuberculosis is an ancient, fatal airborne disease, that has been treatable for decades with a cocktail of drugs. However, shoddy medical practices world-wide have enabled it to mutate and, in some cases, become all but untreatable. XDR TB is particularly dangerous because it is resistant not only to the two most potent TB drugs but a handful of second-line drugs.
This strain is a growing threat in countries including India and South Africa, where it has been found all over the country. The risk to the world is that the disease will migrate outward from these hot spots. Treatment options for XDR-TB are limited and can themselves be toxic.
Casual contact doesn’t necessarily lead to infection although it depends in part on how much time is spent in tight quarters with an infected person, and how much they cough, spreading the bacteria into the air. So far, twelve border agents have tested negative but others may have been infected. By the time the Border Patrol learned of his infection, others illegals detained with him had been transferred.
And, given that the man flew from Nepal to Brazil, traveled by car, boat and on foot, to cross our border illegally, he could have infected possibly thousands of people. Officials in the 13 countries the man visited on his travels say it may be impossible to track down the people he came into contact with since no one knows his exact route through South America.
One of the most striking problems with illegal immigration to the United States are the diseases that immigrants bring. While it is normal for legal immigrants to receive complete health check prior to admission, with the purpose of keeping diseases out, illegal immigrants, of course, do not receive this check, and diseases long since conquered, such as tuberculosis and smallpox, are bring reintroduced into the United States.
A Public Library of Science (PLOS) report warns that spread of the little known Chagas disease throughout “Latin America and the U.S. bears a resemblance to the early years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” “The ‘globalization’ of Chagas translates to up to 1 million cases in the US alone, with an especially high burden of disease in Texas and along the Gulf coast.
Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite related to the African trypanosome that causes sleeping sickness. It is spread by the bite of reduvid bugs and is one of the major health problems in South America. The T-Cruzi protozoan destroys heart tissue and other organs.
Chagas is merely one of a long list of diseases now being spread throughout this country through illegal immigration. Tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis B, dengue fever, measles, and even leprosy are often repoted in those who cross our borders illegally, without detection or screening.
In a 2005 article the Washington Times reported that Hispanics also carry the genetic trait for sickle cell anemia, an incurable blood disorder. The number of Hispanic sickle cell cases in the United States has risen rapidly, and one in every 900 Hispanic infants in this country is born with the disease, said Gil Pena, outreach director for the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association, based at the Cleveland Clinic.
Immigrants, particularly illegals, also impose “huge costs” on the U.S. health care system, especially in states bordering Mexico, says Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). According to a survey by the American Hospital Association (AHA), hospitals in 24 Southwest border counties in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico reported uncompensated care totaling nearly $832 million in 2000. A subsequent report prepared for the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition determined that about 25 percent of those nonreimbursed costs resulted from emergency medical treatment provided to undocumented immigrants. It is estimated that taxpayers spend $4.3 billion a year providing health care to uninsured illegal aliens.
Read the Center for Immigration Report for medicaid cost of amnesty for taxpayers.