Tuberculosis: Illegal immigrants bring new threats

ImmigrationYouthTrendSeventy-five percent of current illegal immigrants are coming from countries in Central America, South America, the Middle East, West Africa, China, India, Pakistan and others far beyond Mexico where multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is common and extremely widespread in children and adults. Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) is an even more serious form of TB accounting for about 10% of cases in these countries, particularly Central/South America and India. Many illegal border crossers now flooding the U.S. southern border, are carrying an invisible, disease-causing co-traveler: the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium.

ImmigrationHolding1MDR-TB does not respond well to treatment, even with complicated and expensive medications that must be taken over a two-year period and can cause severe adverse drug reactions. XDR-TB doesn’t respond well even to second-line drugs and therefore is more likely to cause death.

Tuberculosis, or “consumption” as it was called in the past, is a highly contagious disease that killed millions before being essentially eradicated in the U.S. In the 1920s, TB was the 8th leading cause of death in children 1-4 years old. By the 1960s, with improved sanitation, medical care, and antibiotics, TB was drastically reduced. The last remaining TB hospital in the U.S. recently closed its doors.

ImmigrationOpenFenceIn Central and South America, where public health programs are limited and antibiotics are not widely available, TB is a widespread, debilitating, and deadly disease. Consider data from World Health Organization, WHO:

  • TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.
  • In 2012 alone, 15% of the reported 8.6 million cases resulted in death.
  • HIV/AID and TB are a lethal combination, each disease accelerating the progression of the other. People with HIV/AIDS who are exposed to TB are 30 times more likely to develop the disease, with a death rate of over 20% or 1 in 5.
  • TB is the 3rd leading cause of death for women ages 15-44 in low and middle income countries.
  • All age groups are at risk, though TB primarily affects young adults. About 80% of those crossing our southern borders in this latest wave are in this age group.
  • Hardest hit are people those with compromised immune systems: HIV/AIDS, cancer, and elderly patients.

ImmigrationHolding3TB is spread when infected people cough or sneeze. People can inhale the bacteria-laden droplets in the air. In the crowded, hot, humid detention centers, conditions are perfect for the spread of TB—as well as dengue fever, Chagas, Ebola, chicken pox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, scabies, and lice.

After exposure to TB, the incubation period can range from 2 to 12 weeks after a positive TB skin test. Long before this incubation period is over, illegal immigrants are being shipped to communities throughout the United States, risking major spread. BCG is the vaccine for TB, but it has limited effectiveness and also destroys the usefulness of the skin test.

ImmigrationHolding2Symptoms of TB include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, and constant coughing, sneezing and spitting up blood, along with marked chest pain. If not properly treated with antibiotics, people die of loss of oxygen (asphyxiation) due to the bacteria’s massive destruction of the lungs.

Border Patrol agents have already tested positive for TB. Breitbart reported on July 8 that a previously deported illegal from Guatemala with active TB infection was admitted to UMC El Paso Hospital. Cases of TB have been identified in the illegal immigrant camps in San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso, Texas, but we do not have information released on the situation for Arizona with the planeloads of illegal immigrants being shipped to Arizona from Texas.

ImmigrationObamaThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has downplayed the risks, but anonymous nurses and doctors from Lackland AFB have come forward to say that the government is covering up a serious public health threat. One health care worker was quoted saying: “The amount of tuberculosis is astonishing. The nurses are telling us the kids are really sick.”

Normally the CDC would be providing warnings and preventive steps for the public to take. This time, however, the CDC has been strangely silent. In fact, medical staff at detention centers have been threatened with criminal prosecution if they report these cases to the public or press.

This suppression of critical medical information is egregious negligence putting millions of Americans at serious risk. Americans need to demand that Congress and public officials provide answers and appropriate steps to control the spread of disease before thousands of Americans die.


Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet

Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet

About the author:  Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. is a 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient, and the 2007 recipient of the Voice of Women award from the Arizona Foundation for Women for her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health.

Dr. Vliet is a preventive and climacteric medicine specialist with medical practices in Tucson AZ and Dallas TX that take an integrated approach to evaluation and treatment of women and men with complex medical and hormonal problems. Dr. Vliet is also CEO of International Health Strategies, SpA, a global medical consulting company based in Santiago, Chile whose mission is medical freedom and privacy while preserving the Oath of Hippocrates focus on individual patients.

Dr. Vliet is a past Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). She received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She earned her B.S. and Master’s degrees from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Dr. Vliet has appeared on FOX NEWS, Cavuto, Stuart Varney Show, Fox and Friends, Sean Hannity and many nationally syndicated radio shows across the country as well as numerous Healthcare Town Halls addressing the economic and medical impact of the 2010 healthcare law. Dr. Vliet is a co-host of America’s Fabric radio show.

Dr. Vliet’s health books include: It’s My Ovaries, Stupid; Screaming To Be Heard: Hormonal Connections Women Suspect– And Doctors STILL Ignore; Women, Weight and Hormones; The Savvy Woman’s Guide to PCOS.

Dr. Vliet’s medical and educational websites are, and

Dr. Vliet speaks as an independent physician, not as an official spokesperson for any organization or political party. Dr. Vliet has no financial ties to any health care system or health insurance plan. Her allegiance and advocacy is to and for patients.