Colorado Increases Number of Refugees Diagnosed With Active TB to Sixteen

tuberculosis TB
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment admits that sixteen refugees were diagnosed with active TB between 2011 and 2014.

The admission comes one month after Breitbart News reported ten recently arrived refugees in Colorado were diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB). Between 2011 and 2014, 16 out of 7,754 refugees were diagnosed with active TB at the time of their initial medical screening.

That’s one out of every 484 arriving refugees.

During that same time period, 67 out of the state’s estimated 4.5 million U.S.-born residents were diagnosed with active TB.

That’s one out of every 67,164 U.S.-born residents of Colorado.

Refugees resettled in Colorado developed active TB at a rate 138 times higher than U.S.-born residents of Colorado.

The number of refugees resettled in Colorado between 2011 and 2015 diagnosed with active TB may actually be higher than sixteen, since the most recent total does not include any refugees who may have been diagnosed in 2015.

As Breitbart News reported previously, at least one migrant to Colorado in 2015 reported as a “B1” tuberculosis health risk by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was diagnosed with active TB that year.

Also, unlike several other states which track refugees who develop active TB within one to five years of their arrival in the United States, the most recent Colorado data only reports refugees who are diagnosed with active TB at the time of their initial domestic medical screening, which usually takes place within 90 days of their arrival.

According to the newly reported data on refugee health from the Colorado Department of Health for the years 2011 to 2014, 19 percent of the refugees – or 1,348 out of 7,754–tested positive for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI).

Of those, 71 percent – or 961 out of 1,348 — initiated treatment.

Of those, 79 percent – or 759 out of 961 — completed treatment within one year.

All told, only 56 percent of those refugees who tested positive for LTBI — or 759 out of 1,348 — successfully completed treatment within one year of testing positive.

The low rate of successfully completed treatment among refugees who test positive for LTBI in Colorado is consistent with the results of several recent medical studies.

One study, in particular, conducted at UC San Diego in 2013, concluded that this low rate of successful treatment for LTBI may be one of the reasons that high rates of LTBI among resettled refugees “increase [the] risk of active TB in refugee resettlement communities.”

The upgraded number of refugees diagnosed with active TB in Colorado- from ten to at least sixteen–comes just days after officials with the State of Vermont made an equally embarrassing admission–that the number of refugees diagnosed with active TB in the Green Mountain State was not just the three they initially confirmed, but was, in fact, seventeen, between 2003 and June 30, 2016.

Most, if not all, of the seventeen cases of active TB diagnosed among refugees in Vermont arose from refugees who were cleared prior to their arrival in overseas medical screenings, but arrived with pre-existing tubercular conditions, either LTBI or what the Office of Refugee Resettlement calls “active non-infectious tuberculosis.”

Colorado is one of fourteen states that have withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program. Under the statutorily questionable Wilson Fish alternative program, the federal government has hired a voluntary agency (VOLAG) to run the program there.

Though Tennessee, another state that has withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program, is suing the federal government on Tenth Amendment grounds over the resettlement of refugees in the Volunteer State, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is unlikely to add his state as a plaintiff in that lawsuit.

As the Denver Post reported in November, Hickenlooper “defended President Barack Obama’s decision to admit Syrian refugees into the United States, even as he acknowledged questions about the vetting process.”

“If you are an American — at least I’ve always felt this my whole life growing up — (and) your president decides something, you’ve got to support him if it’s an issue of national security,” Hickenlooper said. “That is just the way it works.”

The Democrat’s remarks came amid sharp opposition to his announcement welcoming Syrian refugees to Colorado despite concerns about the vetting process from the state’s Republican congressional delegation and 26 governors in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Hickenlooper argued the security screening process is “the most rigorous detail driven process for resettlement anywhere in the world right now” and takes three to four years to complete. But he said he is unsure about whether it is adequate for the current influx of migrants seeking refugee status.

Governor Hickenlooper did not respond to requests from Breitbart News about the public health risk refugees in Colorado currently pose to residents of that state.


Larry Wolk, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer at the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment, now tells Breitbart News:

The percent of refugees with active TB in Colorado at or near initial medical screening is 0.22% or less than one quarter of one percent, over the four year period (2011-2014). Refugees are a group that is highly screened and monitored, and our screening and public health systems work collaboratively to ensure they receive appropriate treatment and follow-up care.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.