And by “sick,” officials in Mexico don’t mean the common cold. They mean serious disease.
Some of the migrants are turning around and heading home after months of traveling through Mexico, as The New American reported today. But with a third of the 6,000 or so in Tijuana coughing and breaking out in blisters, now is not the time for the Trump administration to weaken.
AIDS, TB, and Chickenpox
That’s because the diseases many of the migrants carry are deadly — or can be.
“Out of 6,000 migrants currently residing in the city, over a third of them (2,267) are being treated for health-related issues,” Fox News reported.
So far, officials have confirmed three cases of tuberculosis, four cases of AIDS, and four separate cases of chickenpox, the network reported.
Even worse, they’ve also brought in bugs. Real bugs. At least 101, Fox reported, carry lice and “skin infections.”
That means the migrants might well start a typhus epidemic or bring in chagas disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the body louse is the vector for the typhus bacterium, Rickettsia prowazekii.
The Benito Juarez Sports Complex, where the migrants are housed, is one such overcrowded area: 6,000 are packed into an area meant for 1,000.
Chagas is another of the many benefits the migrants might bring. And unlike louse-borne typhus, chagas is not rare. It’s epidemic in Latin America.
Blood-scuking triatomine bugs cause the disease:
Officials also worry about a hepatitis outbreak because of the filth in the Benito Juarez Sports Complex. “The location also has only 35 portable bathrooms,” Fox reported. “A sign reading ‘No Spitting’ was put up, as coughing and spitting by migrants are rampant in the shelter.”
Multi-Drug Resistant TB
Particularly worrisome is how many of the migrants carry a particularly virulent form of TB that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Frightening data appeared in a paper published last year by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
It reported that 37,684 immigrants with TB entered the United States between 2005 and 2009. The most, 24.1 percent, or 9,098, came from Mexico. Another 1,154, or 3.1 percent, came from Guatemala, while 853, or 2.3 percent, came from Honduras, where the migrant invasion began.
But that’s TB generally. Of more concern are the multi-drug resistant cases that came in: 482. Again, Mexico accounted for most of those: 66 or 13.7 percent. Fourteen Guatemalans had the disease, accounting for about three percent. None, apparently, came from Honduras.
MDR TB is a pressing concern, CDC reports, because “it is resistant to ... the two most potent TB drugs ... used to treat all persons with TB.”
Another 2,000 migrants are headed for Tijuana. They will pack the sports complex even tighter. If the 33-percent figure for sick migrants in Tijuana now holds true for those on the way, the town will be faced with another 660 very sick people.
Question: Is the United States expected to permit the entry of nearly 3,000 sick people, and if so, who will pay to treat their myriad diseases?