As thousands of abandoned children from Central and South American are overwhelming Border Patrol, health concerns are growing.
Breitbart Texas previously reported that scabies infections from people entering the U.S. illegally were being passed on to an unknown number of U.S. Border Patrol agents. Now, according to ABC 15, officials are worried about a sweeping viral outbreak. “We are starting to see chicken pox, MRSA staph infections, we are starting to see different viruses,” Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera told the outlet.
Cabrera added that the scabies outbreak is still ongoing. According to Action 4 News, 10-15 percent of apprehended illegal immigrants have scabies in the RVG area.
Due to the sharp increase in illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S., authorities do not have time or resources to screen every apprehended illegal immigrant for diseases.
“We don’t screen for diseases,” RGV Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora told Breitbart Texas. “All we are is a processing center, so we don’t do that.”
This could potentially pose a serious threat to Border Patrol agents, Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas.
“Apparently a significant amount of communicable disease is suspected by custodial and agent personnel,” Taylor said. “What level of medical screening, if any, is being done is unknown. What the medical testing shows is likely not being shared with the agents. And, there are potential communicable diseases that the detainees will not be tested for unless individually requested by a medical officer which is unlikely without acute symptoms.”
Others worry that the threat stretches far beyond Border Patrol agents, and that the general public is also at-risk of contracting various diseases.
The potential for diseases to spread is especially troubling, since federal agents are sending waves of illegal immigrants to processing stations around the United States. Cabrera told ABC 15, “It’s contagious, we are transporting people to different parts of the state and different parts of the country.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly solicited Coast Guard medics to treat the infected, but DHS representatives have refused to comment on the situation and specify how many medics were sent.
The Department released the following statement:
“DHS has public health controls in place to minimize any possible health risks. Throughout the RGV Sector we are conducting public health screens on all incoming detainees to screen for any symptoms of contagious diseases of possible public health concern. U.S. Border Patrol has established Medical Units at its busiest border stations (McAllen, Weslaco, and Ft Brown) handling UAC. US Coast Guard medical teams are assisting with the screening process, and providing healthcare evaluations for the sick and injured.
“Occupational health and safety guidance has been provided to for CBP personnel in the handling of subjects with signs of health-related symptoms. Our workforce has been provided and encouraged to use personal protective gear including latex or non-latex gloves, long-sleeve shirts, and to take precaution including frequent hand washing.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.