Monday, November 26, 2007

Illegal aliens jeopardize US biosecurity

CFP: Illegal aliens jeopardize US biosecurity
In the United States, Tuberculosis infection and disease occur most often among people born in areas of the world where TB is common, such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In most cases, these foreign-born persons become exposed to and infected in their country of birth and bring the contagious disease into the US.

Of all TB cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control in 1997 — the last year studied — 39% were in foreign-born persons. This is an increase from 1986, when 22% of cases were in foreign-born persons. Tuberculosis case rates were seven times greater in the foreign-born compared with the US-born population.

Also, foreign-born individuals now represent 46 percent of all tuberculosis cases reported in the United States compared to 27 percent of cases eight years ago. The CDC is currently processing new data on the illegal alien-TB connection.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the states with the highest numbers of multi-drug resistant TB cases during the last ten years were New York, California, Texas and Florida. These are the same states that are experiencing increased illegal alien populations.

One of the fears of many Americans is the fact that corporations involved in managing slaughterhouses and food-processing operations hire unscreened illegal aliens who may be contaminated with TB or worse — the deadly Bird Flu.
Meanwhile, Border Patrol Chief Carlos X. Carrillo has stated that the Border Patrol is not responsible for arresting/seizing illegal aliens, criminals, and/or drugs, according to officials at Local 2544, the Border Patrol Agents union.

According to a statement from Local 2544, “Carrillo is echoing some things that [Chief] David Aguilar has been saying at BP musters, only he isn’t as polished as Aguilar. When Carrillo made his statement, he didn’t spin it enough to leave himself an out. He obviously hasn’t mastered talking in circles yet.”

What troubles many health experts is the fact that some immigrants have TB or other contagious and deadly diseases, but are not infectious at the time of screening. Sometimes these immigrants become infectious after they enter the United States.

Also, many immigrants have TB infection, but not TB disease, at the time of screening. These immigrants may develop TB disease months or years after they come to the United States. Finally, many people enter the United States without being screened for TB disease, such as students, tourists, and illegal aliens.
TB is also a problem in correctional facilities where up to 27 percent of inmates are illegally in this country. A CDC study conducted in 1984 and 1985 showed that there were four times as many TB cases in people living in correctional facilities as there were in people of the same age who did not live in correctional facilities. There are several reasons why rates of TB disease are higher in correctional facilities.

First, many inmates already have TB infection and therefore are at higher risk of developing TB disease.

Second, an increasing number of inmates are infected with HIV, which means that they are more likely to develop TB disease if they become infected with M. tuberculosis. Finally, some correctional facilities are crowded, which promotes the spread of TB.

Other settings where people at risk for TB are grouped together are homeless shelters and drug treatment centers. People who live or work in these settings are at higher risk of being exposed to TB since these facilities house a disproportionate number of illegal aliens who emanate from countries where infectious diseases are commonplace.

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