AUGUST 28, 2007
Illustrating the serious health threat presented by illegal immigrants, a Mexican teenager has been forcibly detained with a highly contagious strand of tuberculosis (TB) just weeks after an outbreak of the fatal disease at a poultry plant in a different state.
This weekâ??s case involves an illegal immigrant teenager named Francisco Santos in an Atlanta suburb of about 750,000 residents. Gwinnett County health officials obtained a court order to detain the illegal alien because he refused treatment for active, contagious tuberculosis and instead offered to return to his native Mexico.
Authorities refused because Santos is highly contagious and can spread the fatal disease, that primarily affects the lungs and can spread to the kidneys and spinal column, to anyone he comes in contact with.
Just weeks ago there was a tuberculosis outbreak (at least 131 tested positive) at a South Carolina poultry plant and health officials said the culprits were illegal immigrants infected in their home country before sneaking into the United States. The situation is becoming a crisis in the Carolinas because thousands of illegal immigrants go there annually to work in poultry, construction and other industries.
In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are about 300 new TB cases a year in South Carolina alone. This is because, unlike legal immigrants who must first submit to a health test, those who enter the country illegally may carry a variety of contagious and fatal deceases that will go undetected until communities are seriously threatened.
A recent U.S. government report outlines the high incident of TB among new immigrants and reveals how the disease persists in those who are infected for many years after entering the country. A separate but equally alarming report published by the National Institutes of Health in 2002 attributed a TB epidemic in Delawareâ??s poultry plants to the fact that most workers were from Mexico and Guatemala, countries where the disease is prevalent.
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