APRIL 30, 2009
Health officials in a U.S. city that borders Mexico fear that the Mexican swine flu will spread quickly within its vast illegal immigrant communities, especially the region’s numerous migrant settlements.
San Diego County’s Health Department has already reported eight cases of swine flu—three in the last day—and the area’s substantial illegal alien population will likely contribute to its rapid spread. Although the county’s health department doesn’t list the immigration status of the infected, a top health official explains what will happen within tight knit migrant communities.
The physician and health professor at San Diego’s biggest public university says that concentrated groups such as migrant communities are not able to isolate sick members. Therefore, Dr. Thomas Novotny explains, there is potential for major spread of the virus among illegal aliens.
Dr. Novotny, who spent two decades at the Centers for Disease Control, says that to prevent a crisis the government must target those who are working and living illegally in the U.S. County officials should closely watch local migrant camps for signs of swine flu and offer treatment, he says.
The potentially deadly virus originated in Mexico and so far has killed nearly 200 people and infected thousands there, forcing the country to shut down public services, schools and private businesses. The earliest known case was a four-year-old boy who lives on a pig farm in Veracruz and contracted the disease on April 2.
The first reported swine flu fatality, a 39-year-old Mexican woman, occurred on April 13 in Oaxaca. Incredibly, Mexico’s health secretary (Jose Angel Cordova) publicly said this week that the outbreak likely began in the United States.
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