Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Immigrants and Swine Flu

As the world deals with the very serious implications of the current H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) virus, we must take care to examine the facts and not to jump to any conclusions. Unfortunately, some radio and television personalities have used this current health crisis to spread- no pun intended- misinformation about how the Swine Flu has arrived in the United States. For example, Michele Malkin stated in her blog, “I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration.” (bold in original). She then uses the current crisis to argue that it is “time to get serious” about border security.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 91 cases of Swine Flu in ten states as of April 29, 2009 at 11:00a.m. Eastern Standard Time. These states are: Arizona (1), California (14), Indiana (1), Kansas (2), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (2), Nevada (1), New York (51), Ohio (1), and Texas (16). A closer examination, however, reveals that there are no known cases of the virus being spread by illegal immigrants. Details about the Arizona patient were unknown. In California, at least one of the patients had traveled to Mexico over Easter break. Additionally, others had traveled or had been in contact with those that did. According to WBNG News in New York, “So far, all of the confirmed or suspected cases of Swine Flu [in New York] are linked to recent travel to Mexico or another state with the virus.” In Indiana, the patient is a Norte Dame student who had not traveled out of the region this year. The toddler that tragically died in Texas this week came from Mexico to visit relatives about 3 weeks ago. This has prompted some to urge that the US/Mexican border be closed. This is despite the fact that World Health Organization deputy chief Keiji Fukuda said, “With the virus being widespread... closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effects in stopping the movement of this virus.”

While the control of the Swine Flu is of utmost importance, it is important to note that the majority of the cases in the United States are believed to be from persons who visited Mexico and then returned. Dr. Anne Shuchat, from the Centers for Disease Control, in an April 26, 2009 press briefing, advised that the CDC had confirmed the “disease in people who traveled to Mexico.” A fair examination of the facts shows that there is currently no evidence that illegal immigration is the cause of the virus’ spread. Please take care to stop the spread of the virus and also the spread of misinformation about it. For more on what preventative measures you can take, visit the CDC’s website here.

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