Monday, July 07, 2014

Real Threat of undocumented Crossing is to Public Health

Now before some zealot, pro-black/pro-white only progressive liberal republican starts to attack me, I just want to say that I am pro-people, all people and that I practice the use of logic and reason as opposed to emotional invective to present my perspective on what think.  For the record, I am an infectious disease specialist, with a stern history of FUNDED research from institutions including but not limited to the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army Medical Research Centers and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  My academic career began running a child survival and maternal health project for more than a year in South Eastern Nigeria with Africare, from which I would spend the next 16 years of my teaching and Research with the Emory University RollinsSchool of Public Health followed by a brief period with the Morehouse School of Medicine.

What I am interested in, is presenting a narrative that is not sensational enough for the mainstream media to detail, for it does not provide the entertainment values of protestors jousting for position like they were in some medieval arena.  Nor does it have the emotion required to engender the words racist, bigoted, or hatred, which seems to be top billing for most news outlets.

What is missed from the discussion of the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S. border is the issue of public health.  Basic public health and safety (which in my locution are the same) should be the paramount concern addressed more than humanity, economics, mothers and even children.  Now I will say for the record, I have a problem with folk who have more compassion for people coming to the U.S. than the homeless veterans and children we have on our streets currently; and I find it funny that the folk who want to provide for these people (whom are definitely in need), are the same ones who will call the police on a homeless man asking for change, or who forget about the 1.6 million homeless children we have on our streets who were born in America, whom have yet to see the government provide for them in the manner in which these new arrivals have been provided for. And this is in particular directed to the black folk who display anterograde amnesia seeming to never ask for similar provisions for the 800,000 African American kids living on the streets. In the 2011 school year, enrollment statistics in preschools and K-12 programs reported a figure of 1,168,354 children in public schools known to be homeless. In the nation's capital alone, the Public School System reports that over 3,000 of its students are known to be homelessness. Plus, California, New York, Texas and Florida are among the hardest hit by the homeless youth crisis, and presently these states are also dealing with the brunt of the recent immigration influx.

Yet still, mine is one of public health. When I say public health, I am referring to the practice of protecting and improving the health of individuals, communities, and populations, locally and globally. This is accomplished via focusing on preventing disease and injury by promoting healthy lifestyles in concert with implementing educational programs and policies developed in an effort to achieve these goals: specifically, as they regard preventing and controlling the spread of infectious disease.

What has been barely mentioned with this massive surge in undocumented persons entering the United States, is the rate in which infectious disease, many of which are tropical, inundate theirhomelands. This is a threat that should be taken seriously and sounded so that all of the citizens in America can take the necessary preventive precautions.

With 52,000 plus and growing, it was only a matter of time before communicable illness started being documented among the new immigrants. Last week, San Diego’s Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council issued a press release announcing a Border Patrol Agenthad contracted scabies, a contagious skin infection caused by mites. This happened in connection with the transfer of detained illegal unaccompanied alien children from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, while they were being processed in Otay Mesa, California. Before this, an unaccompanied minor was hospitalized anddiagnosed with H1N1 (swine flu), after being housed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, a facility run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also in Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents in have discovered four cases of the H1N1 flu strain among illegal immigrant children held at two detention centers in Brownsville.

Not only have we seen the aforementioned, but California is in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic, with more than 3,500 cases of whooping cough reported between Jan. 1 – to June. During the last two weeks of June, the California Department of Public Health reported more than 800 new cases (more than all the cases reported in 2013).

I am not writing to scare anyone but rather to alert concerned individuals of the outcome that may happen if we continue to ignore the impact this mass immigration may have on public health outcomes in our community. These are just a few of what has been documented among others including chicken pox and MRSA staph infectionsI wont even mention Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, Rift Valley fever,  Schistosomiasis or anti-biotic resistant TuberculosisThe reality is that these events have major and sever potential of becoming a public health crisis. In particular since that many of these individuals live in the tight spaces in which the children are contained on their way here and are housed in small congested areas in detention centers where they are housed in the U.S. Not only do these increase chances of spreading communicable diseases to other children but to border guards as well, and the general community within which they live.

So while you are caught up on the emotions of this issue, please do me a favor, and do take the time to educate yourself on what a disease pandemic, as a consequence of our porous borders, may mean you those already here in the United States.


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