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Diseased foreigners streaming into U.S.

Border Patrol agents long have been at risk for violence from drug cartels and criminals, however, there is a new, insidious threat to agents, families, and communities from the crush of illegal immigrants. Our southern border has become a gateway for disease entry, maintains Elizabeth Lee Vliet, past director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Tucson, Ariz., who points out that BP agents have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), H1N1 ("swine") flu, and chicken pox. Other diseases such as dengue and Ebola virus may be in this wave of immigrants, since people are coming from Central and South America, the Middle East, and West Africa. Dengue fever, including the hemorrhagic form, already is raging in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever is seriously out of control in several West African countries.

These diseases are highly contagious, especially in the crowded and poor sanitary conditions in detention and processing centers where thousands of immigrants are housed until sent to other areas of the U.S.--without full screening for such diseases, warns Vliet.

The extent of the threat appears to be unknown, or is being kept secret. "We do know that the Federal government advertised in January for 'escorts' for up to 65,000 unaccompanied minors, indicating this flood of illegals was orchestrated."

"CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.] has not informed the Border Patrol which types of diseases have been diagnosed, or where any ill people have been taken," notes Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. "We have apprehended West African illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley sector coming into the U.S. through Mexico in the last few years. Right now, we are only apprehending about three percent of the volume coming across our border, so the danger to the American people is that no one knows who is coming in, how many there are, where they are coming from, what they are carrying, and where they are going."

In fact, interjects Vliet, bus and plane loads of people are being transported quickly from the borders to cities and military bases around the country, risking the spread of disease further into America's heartland. Vliet stresses that the citizenry deserve answers to these questions:

* Why is the CDC--the U.S. agency responsible for identification, tracking, and overseeing issues around infectious disease outbreaks--so strangely silent?

* Why did the Border Patrol Union post a notice on June 29 in Local 1613 News with a list of precautions agents should take, but no such warning has been issued by the CDC to the public in affected communities?

* What diseases are being Identified, but not reported, to the general public?

* Why are there reports of a temporary decontamination center set up in El Paso, Texas, similar to those in use in West Africa? What is it for? What diseases have been found that would require such a facility?

* Why are Border Patrol agents--charged with protecting the homeland from incursions such as this--now prohibited from speaking out, often with threats of criminal prosecution?

* What steps are being taken to isolate and quarantine infected individuals, or to prepare communities for a spike in serious illnesses?

* Why are more doctors in the southern border states not already on alert to handle sudden increase in TB, adult chicken pox, measles, H1N1 influenza, dengue, Ebola, plus other unknown but lethal diseases?

Americans tend to be complacent about infectious diseases, Vliet notes, but we need to keep in mind that, in spite of our successes, infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide, and in the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. Many of the diseases of concern, such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, have no effective treatments, she adds.

"Biological agents like viruses and bacteria are not like radiological weapons that decay continually once released, or chemical agents that are degraded in the environment and require threshold concentrations to be deadly," says Vliet.

"Disease-causing agents have doubling times, not half lives. Disease agents continue to increase exponentially, as long as there are people to be exposed. This medical crisis on our borders is a ticking time bomb. Are we now in the early stages of--or in danger of--a 'Plan B' biological attack on the homeland?

"The CDC either is egregiously incompetent or complicit in hiding information from the public. Both are unacceptable. The CDC and media have a duty to inform the American people about a threat that transcends any political ideology."
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Title Annotation:Immigration
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:750
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