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Diseases Return

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by  Kerby Anderson

Earlier this month was a celebration of “World Refugee Day.” While immigrant activists were talking about the need to provide safe places for refugees, other commentators reminded us that many diseases were making a comeback in America.

The returning diseases are: tuberculosis, mumps, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and the bubonic plague. It is probably safe to say that many doctors may not have even seen some of these diseases until now. My grandfather’s doctor saw many of them in the 1930s and 1940s, but vaccines and improved public health nearly eradicated them from the population.

What changed? One word: immigration. An article in Breitbart estimates that the number of foreign-born residents in this country has increased by 31 million in the last three decades. In the past, doctors at Ellis Island were watching for signs of contagious diseases. Today immigrants coming to this country (both legally and illegally) can bring diseases into this country we haven’t seen in significant numbers in decades.

Consider tuberculosis. Back in 1986, less then a quarter (22%) of the active cases occurred in foreign born. Today, two-thirds (66%) of the active cases are foreign born. Back in 1926, there were over 200,000 cases of whooping cough. A half-century later, the disease had nearly been eliminated. By the late 1980s it crept back up, but now the cases are 30 times the number of cases reported a few decades ago. Similar increases can be found for other diseases.

The next president and the next Surgeon General will have to set forth common sense procedures to deal with diseases that are once again returning to America. The first step is to recognize that this is a problem and begin a discussion. But that won’t be easy in a politically correct culture where some believe such a discussion is anti-immigrant. It isn’t anti-immigrant, but it is anti-disease.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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