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Illinois Confirms Eight Refugees Diagnosed with Active TB Upon Arrival

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The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed that eight refugees were diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB)  “during the initial health screening or within 90 days of the refugee arrival” in the four years between 2012 and 2015.

This data was not included in the Reported Tuberculosis in the United States documents published annually by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) between 2012 and 2015. Those reports confirmed 1,565 cases of active TB diagnosed among refugees in the 46 states that reported immigration status upon first arrival among foreign-born residents of the United States diagnosed with active TB.

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Illinois is one of four states that do not share this data with the CDC. Arizona, Virginia, and Washington are the other three states.

“Illinois reports all data elements required by the CDC. It would be inaccurate to try to compare the Illinois data to the data in the CDC report due to different reporting methodologies,”  spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) told Breitbart in an emailed statement.

“Background information-the IDPH Refugee Health Program does track TB among refugees,” the spokesperson added, noting:

The IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section does not report refugee TB data to the CDC in the same manner as some other states, but Illinois does report all data elements required by CDC. In some states, the refugee program is part of the communicable disease section. That is not the case in Illinois.

The reporting methodology is different, therefore comparing Illinois data with the CDC report would be comparing apples to oranges.

The Illinois Refugee Health Program captures active TB cases during the initial health screening or within 90 days of the refugee arrival. This is one reason why Illinois’ data is not included in this CDC report. The data provided in the CDC report comes from our Communicable Disease Control Section. While the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section tracks foreign-born cases of TB as this information is important for evaluation, testing, and treatment decisions, the Section is not required to collect and report refugee information to the CDC.

“However, it would be inappropriate to try to compare the Illinois data to the data in the CDC report due to different reporting methodologies. 2015 – 4 TB cases (calendar year), 2014 – No TB Confirmed Cases Reported (Federal Fiscal Year), 2013 – 2 TB cases (Federal Fiscal Year), 2012 – 2 TB cases (Federal Fiscal Year),” the spokesperson noted.

Twenty-six thousand four hundred and six refugees were resettled in Illinois by the federal government between 2003 and 2015, according to the Department of State.

Surprisingly, CDC does not require Illinois or any other state to provide data related to immigration status upon arrival for patients diagnosed with active TB for its annual Reported Tuberculosis in the United States.

“CDC encourages states/jurisdictions to provide as complete information as possible, but there is no requirement that they provide immigration status as part of routine surveillance,” a spokesperson told Breitbart News on Monday.

Limiting reporting of cases of TB diagnosed upon arrival, however, fails to capture the majority of the refugee TB cases which develop and are diagnosed more than a year after their arrival.

As the annual Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2015 stated, only 17 percent of the 6,350 cases of active TB diagnosed among foreign-born residents of the United States that year, or 1,003 out of 6,350, were diagnosed less than one year after their arrival in the United States.

Twenty eight percent of those cases, or 1,779 out of 6,350, were diagnosed more than one year after but less than ten years after their arrival, 19 percent, or 1,240 out of 6,350, were diagnosed more than ten years but less than twenty years after their arrival, and 26 percent, or 1,682 out of 6,350, were diagnosed more than twenty years after their arrival. (Nine percent of cases were classified as “unknown/missing.”)

In Illinois, 18 percent of foreign-born TB cases diagnosed in 2015, or 43 out of 243, were diagnosed less than one year after their arrival in the United States. Nine percent those 43 foreign-born cases, or 4 out of 43, were refugees.

Eighty two percent of foreign-born TB cases diagnosed in 2015 in Illinois, or 200 out of 243, were diagnosed one year or more after their arrival in the United States. If nine percent of those 200 cases were refugees, that would mean there were 38 additional cases of refugee TB diagnosed in Illinois that year.

Discovering that information, however, seems problematic, since “the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section tracks foreign-born cases of TB as this information is important for evaluation, testing, and treatment decisions, the Section is not required to collect and report refugee information to the CDC.”

The eight cases of refugee TB reported to Breitbart News by Illinois, combined with the eleven cases in 2015 reported to Breitbart News by the state of Washington, brings the total known cases of active TB diagnosed among refugees in the United States between 2012 and 2015 to 1,584.

This latest estimate understates the true number of refugee TB cases in the United States during these four years because Arizona and Virginia do not collect refugee TB data or report it to the CDC, New York City and Washington, D.C. do not report this data to the CDC (and have not commented to Breitbart News whether they collect it), Illinois does not track cases of TB diagnosed in refugees after their initial medical screening in the first year after their arrival, and the state of Washington has not provided refugee TB data to Breitbart News for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014.


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