New Disease Concerns in Major Cities

Rampant homelessness, poverty, immigration, anti-vaccination sentiment, and poor public sanitation and health policy have all combined to create legitimate concerns about infectious disease outbreak in major U.S. cities. In recent months, diseases not seen in years have been reemerging in the U.S., and now major cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, New York and Los Angeles are facing a potential public health crisis.

Dr. Drew Pinsky sounded the alarm for his home city of Los Angeles in a recent interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News. "We had a Typhus outbreak last summer, we'll have a Typhus outbreak this summer...I'm hearing from experts that bubonic plague is likely, it's already here," said Pinsky. "Tuberculosis is exploding, we are one of the only major cities in the country that does not have a rodent control program, and sanitation has broken down."

Here in Texas and Houston specifically, there are no current concerns about Typhus or bubonic plague, but there are other disease threats. "As we move into the warmer summer months, it's important to note that we do now have a history of mosquito-transmitted diseases," says Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine. "We've had Dengue here in Texas and even here in Houston, we've had Zika in South Texas."

Dr. Hotez tells KTRH that Texas' climate combined with its rapid population growth, especially in urban areas, are major factors in the disease threat. "Probably the most important driver is poverty, so even though we call them tropical diseases they are generally diseases of poverty," he says. "And we have five million Texans living below the poverty line."

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