Three Refugees Diagnosed With Active TB in Vermont Over Past Seven Months

file, Oct. 16, 2013
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

A spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health confirms to Breitbart News that “three refugees [have been] diagnosed with TB in Vermont over the past seven months.”

One case was diagnosed in December 2015, and the other two cases were diagnosed in 2016.

No one other than a refugee has been diagnosed with active TB in Vermont during the first six months of 2016, the spokesperson adds.

The stunning admission comes after Breitbart News reported that the number of active TB cases in Vermont tripled from two in 2014 to seven in 2015.

“In 2015 Active TB Cases were seven. This included one refugee, three foreign born and three U.S. born. In 2016 (YTD) there were two Active TB cases in refugees,” Charon Goldwyn, Chief of Operations, Records Officer for the Vermont Department of Health tells Breitbart News.

But Goldwyn denies that the Green Mountain State is experiencing a TB outbreak.

“In a subsequent e-mail you asked if Vermont is currently experiencing a TB outbreak and the answer is no,” Goldwyn added.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “[d]efinitions for TB outbreaks are relative to the local context,” and that “a TB outbreak is generally defined as a situation where there are:”

More TB cases than expected within a geographic area or population during a particular time period,


Evidence of recent transmission of M. tuberculosis among those cases

Although the time period is not well defined, recent transmission generally refers to a situation where TB transmission occurred within the previous 2-year period.

During the four years beginning in 2012 and ending in 2015, 1,301 refugees have been resettled in Vermont. One Vermont publication reports that 6,300 refugees were resettled in the state in the twenty five years between 1989 and 2014, about one percent of the state’s population of 632,000.

Assuming an estimated refugee population of about 6,300, the annualized rate of TB among resettled refugees in Vermont over the past seven months is approximately 85 per 100,000, high even for a third-world country. This contrasts dramatically with the rate of TB in all of Vermont in 2014, which was approximately 0.3 per 100,000 (two cases out of a population of 626,562 in 2014).

The current rate of active TB among resettled refugees in Vermont, therefore, is approximately 250 times greater than it is among the general population of the state, based on those assumptions.

Internal emails obtained by contained information that identify the three resettled refugees in Vermont who have been diagnosed with active TB over the past seven months.

The first refugee was “diagnosed with active TB [and] treated by Dr. Walter Kemper Alston and Dr. Porntip Kiatsimkul, both of the University of Vermont Medical Center.”

Her “treatment began on December 31, 2015.”

The second refugee is “a patient of Dr. Christopher Huston of the University of Vermont Medical Center, whose husband had been treated for active pulmonary TB at a refugee camp prior to arriving in the US, with 3 children, age 13,11, and 7.”

She “was diagnosed with active TB by a GeneXpert test on April 22.” She “started on the four drug protocol earlier in the month.”

The third refugee is “a patient of Dr. Krystine Speiss and Dr. Alston, both of the University of Vermont Medical Center.”

This patient’s treatment began around May 27, the date Vermont Department of Health public health nurse Sydney White said in an email that “Her CXR was OK so they plan to have her do daily INH/RIF/B6 for 9 months, no PZA or EMB. Kemper said she should self administer since she is extrapulmonary.”

Darcie Johnston, founder of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, finds the dramatic recent increase of active TB cases among recently resettled refugees in Vermont alarming.

“With all the state’s focus on the ‘epidemic’ of opiate abuse, in order to justify all kinds of draconian intervention into the patient-physician relationship, we shouldn’t forget about traditional epidemic diseases, and we should wonder why cases like this don’t provoke draconian restrictions on refugees,” Johnston tells Breitbart News.

“On Friday, the Vermont Department of Health announced this year’s first human case of West Nile Virus. Vermonters have a right to know all public health threats and no government has the right to keep this information from the public. Vermonters for Health Care Freedom call for a full disclosure of how many TB cases are in VT, if all are under treatment and who is paying the cost of treatment,” Johnston adds.

The Vermont Department of Health on Thursday answered the first of Johnston’s questions, but the remaining two—if all TB cases in Vermont are under treatment and who is paying the cost of treatment—remain unanswered.


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