A Resurgence of Deadly Diseases: Diseases Once Thought to Be Nearly Eradicated in America, Such as Tuberculosis and Leprosy, Are Now Rising as Illegal Immigrants Bring Their Health Problems to Our Country

By Kirkwood, R. Cort | The New American, November 27, 2006 | Go to article overview

A Resurgence of Deadly Diseases: Diseases Once Thought to Be Nearly Eradicated in America, Such as Tuberculosis and Leprosy, Are Now Rising as Illegal Immigrants Bring Their Health Problems to Our Country


Kirkwood, R. Cort, The New American


Illegal immigrants not only drain American healthcare resources but also present a new threat: diseases once thought nearly erased from the American medical dictionary, as well as new ones never before seen, are emerging across the country.

As the late Madeline Cosman demonstrated in the Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons in 2005, and other newspapers and health organizations have widely reported, illegal immigrants carry loathsome diseases for which American medicine is ill-prepared.

Time was, she wrote, referring to her immigrant grandfather, immigrants were tested for infectious diseases and then quarantined or shipped back to the old country. Anyone who has seen the second Godfather film remembers young Vito Corleone's arrival at Ellis Island. Diagnosed with smallpox, he landed in confinement. Or, like Cosman, many Americans know of the stories of grandparents and great-grandparents fresh off the boat from the old country. The authorities checked them for disease.

"Every legal immigrant before 1924 was examined for infectious diseases upon arrival and tested for tuberculosis," Cosman wrote. "Anyone infected was shipped back to the old country. That was powerful incentive for each newcomer to make heroic efforts to appear healthy. Today, immigrants must demonstrate that they are free of communicable diseases and drug addiction to qualify for lawful permanent residency green cards. Illegal aliens simply cross our borders medically unexamined, hiding in their bodies any number of communicable diseases."

Among the deadly maladies pouring across the border is tuberculosis, mostly wiped out in modern America, Cosman writes, "thanks to excellent hygiene and powerful modern drugs." But now, multidrug resistant tuberculosis has arrived in America via Mexico and other third-world countries. "MDR-TB," she explained, "takes 24 months [to cure] with many expensive drugs that cost around $250,000, with toxic side effects. Each illegal with MDR-TB coughs and infects 10 to 30 people, who will not show symptoms immediately. Latent disease explodes later."

TB cases in Virginia jumped 17 percent in 2002, but Prince William County, alone, she reported, witnessed a 188-percent increase. And there's more:

   In 2001 the Indiana School of Medicine
   studied an outbreak of MDRTB,
   and traced it to Mexican illegal
   aliens. The Queens, New York, health
   department attributed 81 percent of
   new TB cases in 2001 to immigrants.
   The Centers for Disease Control and
   Prevention ascribed 42 percent of all
   new TB cases to foreign-born people
   who have up to eight times higher
   incidence. Apparently, 66 percent
   of all TB cases coming to America
   originate in Mexico, the Philippines,
   and Vietnam. Virulent TB outbreaks
   afflicted schoolteachers and children
   in Michigan, adults and children in
   Texas, and policemen in Minnesota.
   Recently TB erupted in Portland,
   Maine, and Del Rey Beach, Florida.

Quoting the federal Centers for Disease Control, in 2005, the Washington Times reported that "people from outside the United States accounted for 53.3 percent of all new tuberculosis cases in this country in 2003. That was up from fewer than 30 percent in 1993. In 2003, nearly 26 percent of foreign-born TB patients in the United States were from Mexico. …

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