Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The coughing busboy

News reports from Atlanta reveal that a 17-year old boy from Mexico is being held against his will in isolation in the Gwinnett County Jail. He has TB and just wants to go home to Mexico.

TB is about three times more prevalent in Mexico than it is in the United States. Figures from 2004 put the number of cases at 16,000 and 14,500 respectively, but their population was 106 million and ours was 296 million.

Unlike sickle cell anemia, TB isn’t related to skin color but rather socio-economic conditions.

As distasteful and inhumane as it seems to us now, Ellis Island was an effort to screen our immigrants. Screening is still important today, yet the “they just came here for a better life” crowd doesn’t seem to see the danger in open borders.

Pew Hispanic Center did a study of illegal aliens in March of 2006. They reported that “unauthorized” workers make up a significant percentage of the workforce in these key industries:
Food Packaging/Processing – 14%
Farming – 13%
Food Service – 12%
Hotels – 10%

So you have 12 of them crammed in a minivan speeding through the desert and one of them has a bad cough. They then move into close-quarters housing. Can you see the vectors moving throughout our society? Are you ready for an Al Gore sequel? “An Inconvenient Cough” coming to a theater near you!

Hepatitis A and Salmonella are also very easily transmitted through food handlers.

Earlier this year there was an outbreak in the Fox Valley (Illinois) of Salmonella Newport traced to locally produced Mexican-style Cheeses being manufactured by unlicensed, unregulated plants in the area.

A food worker at Houlihan’s in Geneva Illinois shared his Hepatitis A with patrons in January of this year. The culprit appeared to be drinks with ice in them.

From December through March, a homeless shelter in Aurora Illinois kept a resident with TB, resulting in a search for others who may have been infected.

As I write this several swimming pools in Utah are closed due to cryptosporidium, a bacterial infection caused by poor hygiene on the part of people with diarrhea.

We can talk about spinach and onions as well, but my point is that when we lose control of the third world aliens coming into our country (and the Chinese have a serious problem, not just those south of the border) we are playing with fire.

This problem requires serious border security, a review of our screening programs, and a need for assimilation of our hygiene habits by those who choose to live here. I don’t see us doing any of that very well.

By the time the ice caps melt, those of us who remain will be coughing up blood anyway.

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