New York City’s Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan sent a letter to physicians and health-care administrators citywide informing them of the influx of migrants from the southern border—more than 50,000 to New York City alone in the past year—and its potential implications for contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and polio arriving with them into our neighborhoods.
This same threat is also present in other migrant destinations including California, Texas, and Florida.
In his letter, Commissioner Vasan stated that many of those who recently arrived have lived in or traveled through countries with high rates of tuberculosis (TB).
TB is a bacterial infection treatable through antibiotics but generally requires six to nine months of medication for full recovery. It spreads through the air like influenza or a cold, which means that extended contact such as sitting next to someone with TB on the subway or at school can lead to transmission.
The rate of TB cases in New York City at 6.1 cases per 100,000 is more than double the national rate and close to nine out of 10 (88%) are people born outside the United States.
Every neighborhood in the city has reported at least one case, prompting Commissioner Vasan to call on New York to take comprehensive action by providing migrants with necessary healthcare, food and legal services. Unfortunately, no mention was made of protecting the people who already live here.
The lack of open borders has contributed to the spread of disease. Immigrants and refugees entering the United States legally must undergo health screenings, including vaccinations and TB tests, to ensure they are not bringing any illnesses into the country. However, those crossing the Rio Grande are not subject to these safety protocols.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that foreign-born individuals account for 6,009 out of 8,300 cases of tuberculosis nationwide in 2022. Furthermore, Florida has seen a 21% increase in TB since 2020, while Texas border counties have a rate three times higher than the national average.
The consequences of open borders can be severe. Immigrants who are lawfully applying for visas must pass health screenings and demonstrate that they have been vaccinated; additionally, refugees are screened for tuberculosis prior to entering the US. However, those crossing the Rio Grande illegally are not subject to such regulations.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of 8,300 people diagnosed with TB in 2022 at least 6,009 were foreign-born.
In Florida alone, there has been a 21% increase in TB cases since 2020, while Texas border counties have a rate three times greater than the national average. While treatable, tuberculosis is still highly contagious and presents serious health risks. Furthermore, polio is another threat which could potentially lead to lifelong paralysis if not addressed promptly.
In previous decades polio was a major issue across America with thousands of individuals paralyzed as a result; however this nightmare ended due to the introduction of vaccines. It remains unclear what impact open borders will have on reintroducing polio into the country and further research is needed in order to determine its potential danger.
The last confirmed case of polio in New York occurred in 1990, until a Rockland County man who had not received the vaccine became paralyzed by the disease last summer. It is believed that the infection was contracted from abroad.
The United States utilizes only injectable polio vaccines containing dead virus that are unable to spread the disease. However, many other countries deploy a less-safe oral vaccine carrying live virus, which may be shed in the vaccinated person’s feces and spread through sewage or on unwashed hands.
This issue has been observed in 25 countries, with New York sewage containing strains of polio caused by oral vaccines and the Rockland man’s polio also matching these same strains. He had not left America before experiencing symptoms, but he was exposed at a gathering several days prior, likely through contact with contaminated water or shaking hands.
According to Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County health commissioner, “When we see one case of paralytic polio it is possible there are hundreds more in the community that have gone undiagnosed due to 75% of cases being asymptomatic”.
Mary Bassett, former Health Commissioner echoes this sentiment by noting that “the danger of polio is present in New York today”.
You can thank the Biden administration’s open-border policies.