Health ramifications of illegal immigration

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are coming into Texas, possibly bringing diseases with them.

Border towns have an extra burden of protecting residents and the rest of the country from diseases that illegal immigrants who are allowed in the US might have brought over from their countries.

Laredo has four international bridges and one railroad crossing from Mexico and is the number one port of entry.

At one commercial bridge, there's at least 16,000 trucks that cross legally daily north and southbound.

City of Laredo Health Department Director Dr. Hector Gonzalez said since mid-February, they've screened almost 10,000 people who have been released by Customs and Border Patrol through Laredo.

"If we detect something right here, then we can contain it, treat it and prevent it because wherever these migrants wind up, if we don't detect it right now, they may be a potential health issue down the road," said Gonzalez.

Compared to McAllen, El Paso and Brownsville, Laredo has the lowest amount of people crossing the border. On a daily basis, those three border towns have double the amount of migrants crossing.

He said unlike other Texas border towns, they've been able to rule out diseases like measles, mumps, tuberculosis and malaria.

"So far, the diseases that we've seen among the surge of migrants has been respiratory, flu, diarrhea, gastrointestinal, mild abrasions," said Gonzalez.

He added the border has some endemic issues of arboviruses which are spread from mosquitos like Dengue, West Nile and Zika viruses.

Gonzalez said the difference between other ports of entry and Laredo is the rate of tuberculosis.


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