Homeland Security Report: Border Children Transmitting Diseases

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 10:36 PM

By Cathy Burke

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An alarming Homeland Security inspector general memo says some of the migrant children who've poured across the southern border and are crammed into detention facilities have needed treatment for highly communicable diseases – and have sickened workers at the facilities.

Inspector General John Roth wrote Wednesday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that sick children "require treatment for communicable disease, including respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, chicken pox, and scabies."

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In addition, he wrote, "federal employees at the facilities "reported exposure to communicable diseases and becoming sick on duty."

"For example, during a recent site visit to the Del Rio [U.S. Border Patrol] Station and Del Rio Port of Entry, [Customs and Border Protection] personnel reported contracting scales, lice, and chicken pox," the memo stated.

"Two … officers reported that their children were diagnosed with chicken pox within days of the … officers' contact with [an unaccompanied child] who had chicken pox. In addition, [U.S. Border Patrol] personnel at the Clint Station and Santa Teresa Station reported that they were potentially exposed to tuberculosis."

A senior spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned flu cases reported in late June at detention centers in southwest Texas and Arizona will possibly "spread to the local community and beyond," Slate reports.

"Drug-resistant tuberculosis also appears to have spread, with several counties in southern Texas reporting twice the usual average number of cases," Slate reports, adding the potentially deadly dengue fever has been detected in southern Texas for the first time since 2005 and "illegal immigrants, possibly from Mexico, are a likely source."

The inspector general's memo comes as an outbreak of chicken pox resulted in a quarantine lockdown on a New Mexico detention facility housing 500 illegal immigrant families, halting deportations there.

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