Skip to comments.Are illegals making U.S. a leper colony? (Leprosy in America)
Posted on 05/22/2005 2:19:16 PM PDT by wagglebee
Leprosy, the contagious skin disease evoking thoughts of biblical and Medieval times, is now making its mark in the United States, and many believe the influx of illegal aliens is a main factor.
"Americans should be told that diseases long eradicated in this country tuberculosis, leprosy, polio, for example and other extremely contagious diseases have been linked directly to illegals," Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., told the Business Journal of Phoenix. "For example, in 40 years, only 900 persons were afflicted by leprosy in the U.S.; in the past three years, more than 7,000 cases have been presented."
"This emerging crisis exposes the upside-down thinking of federal immigration policy," he continued. "While legal immigrants must undergo health screening prior to entering the U.S., illegal immigrants far more likely to be carrying contagious diseases are crawling under that safeguard and going undetected until they infect extraordinary numbers of American residents."
The number of cases of leprosy, now known as Hansen's disease, among immigrants to the U.S. has more than doubled since 2000, according to a news report from Columbia University.
While the overall figure is small compared to other countries, some researchers fear the trend could lead to the disease spreading to the U.S.-born population.
"It's creeping into the U.S.," Dr. William Levis, head of the New York Hansen's Disease Clinic, told Columbia News Service. "This is a real phenomenon. It's a public health threat. New York is endemic now, and nobody's noticed."
Levis thinks America could be on the verge of an epidemic.
"We just don't know when these epidemics are going to occur," he said. "But we're on the cusp of it here, because we're starting to see endemic cases that we didn't see 25 years ago."
According to Steve Pfeifer, head of statistics and epidemiology at the National Hansen's Disease Program, only about two dozen new cases are found each year in U.S.-born patients, with that number remaining stable for decades.
But Pfeifer suggests many aliens are coming to the U.S. specifically to get treated for their skin condition, due to the short time between many immigrants' entry to the U.S. and their diagnosis with leprosy.
"They're coming to be treated because they get treatment free and probably get better treatment here," he told Columbia. "Somebody down there diagnoses them and says, 'Hey, you've got leprosy, and your best course of action is probably high-tailing to the U.S.'"
The fear is that since the disease remains contagious until treatment is commenced, a surge of diagnosed-but-untreated patients could mean a spread of leprosy into the population of those born in America.
Pfeifer said he had not issued an official report on the dangerous trend, fearing that anti-immigration groups would become vocal against centers providing free health care for illegals.
"A lot of our cases are imported," said Dr. Terry Williams, who treats leprosy victims in Houston. "We see patients from everywhere Africa, the Philippines, China, South America."
Williams confirms that some of his patients came to the U.S. specifically for treatment, telling Columbia, "Certainly we do see some of that. We've had even a couple of patients from Cuba who were put on a boat by Castro just to get them out of the country they made their way here through Mexico and Central America basically just to get treated. ... We treat them; our job isn't to be immigration police."
But not all experts have such a gloomy outlook.
Dr. Denis Daumerie, head of the World Health Organization's leprosy-elimination program, thinks claims of immigrants causing a spike in U.S. leprosy are overstated.
"There is no risk of an epidemic of leprosy," he told Columbia. "There's absolutely no risk that the few immigrants who are affected by the disease, if they are diagnosed and treated, will spread the disease in the U.S."
I don't think there is much ethnic difference here. It is more likely to occur in crowded (generally poor) communities where many infections spread better and in which it had already been present. I think of India, Nigeria, Brazil and SE Asia as the main remaining trouble spots. Central America has some, but not as much as the those. Medieval Europe had a lot of it so Caucasians certainly were susceptible then. I wouldn't expect much resistance to evolve since then to such a slow killer, unless it was as a side benefit to bubonic plague resistance. Historically some long isolated populations (e.g. Hawaii) were less resistant. There actually has been quite a bit of research on how the immune system handles or fails to handle leprosy, but I'm not up to speed on it. I think the 3% susceptible figure came from epidemiological models of its spread.
My father used to sing us this song when we were kids. He's so tone deaf that I have no idea what the tune really is, but the words go like this:
Omigosh I got leprosy!
There goes my eyeball,
right into my highball.
There goes my left leg,
it rolled under the beer keg"
Needless to say we had a peculiar childhood :lol:, this is one of the less weird songs he sang.
Not a bad idea, though.
This is what all them mohow's snackin on armadillo road kill enroute to el norte are bringing with em.....
All of the third world countries shipping their people here have the best health care system in the world: The United States of America. Another reason to come here (and to mooch off of us and get all kinds of freebies and then complain about us).
No it wouldn't. The 14th states:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
This does not apply to foreign nationals, whether in this country legally or illegally. As Jacob Howard, coauthor of the citizenship clause of the 14th amendment stated in 1866:
"Every Person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons."
The citizenship clause was thus clearly meant to prevent emancipated slaves from being denied citizenship, not to provide an end run around our immigration policies.
What percentage of the United States immigrant population enters the country illegally?
I have no idea. Why?
Ok,I get to do it this thread!
Just spreading diseases that Americans are too lazy to spread!!
"Leprosy is not easily transmitted. Only about 5% of people who live in the same household as someone with leprosy contract the disease. And it takes a long time to develop -- usually 4-8 years. I suspect this increase in U.S. leprosy cases is largely confined to certain immigrant groups from countries where it is endemic (most of whom already had it when they got here, but just weren't symptomatic yet), and is at least partly due to increased diagnosis (read: more free medical care to illegal immigrants). Also, it's now completely curable. So don't panic!"
Agreed. This article is sensationalist and misleading. I'm more concerned about the piece of baked armadillo I ate as a kid (my dad's curiosity got the best of him) than an epidemic caused by immigrants. Anyway, Hansen's desease is easily curable now, though if untreated for a long time can lead to ghastly results.
LOL. Yes, we've lost the initiative.
I think the point is that if leprosy is coming back, so are a lot of other goodies we have kept supressed.
That probably is the point, but it's poorly made because the author would rather rely on overblowing the risks from an easily treatable, low-threat disease sure to evoke panic and emotion (the horrific biblical scourge of leprosy) than to cite real evidence supporting his claim. (I might suspect that his real claim is that immigration is bad, based on the shabbiness of this article.)
I just thought you might have an idea of the figures. I found the estimate somewhere else.
Though I don't care much for the tone or specifics of this article, something like TB is more compelling as a problem, and I don't discount it. TB screening should be part of the immigration process, in my opinion.
Why don't they just send the lepers to the leper colony in Hawaii?
And I was in a good mood today. GWB and the GOP should both go jump off a bridge for refusing to take care of this mess. They are not only refusing to fix this disaster, but are making excuses for it and making it worse.