“A number of diseases once thought to be unknown or eradicated in the U.S. are becoming prevalent again. I’m talking about rare and deadly diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and leprosy.”
Dear Valued Reader,
Political correctness can be deadly.
Especially when it comes to Third World diseases slipping through and around America’s borders. And even more worrisome given the political bottlenecks that prevent new and effective antibiotics from entering the market.
A number of diseases once thought to be unknown or eradicated in the U.S. are becoming prevalent again. I’m talking about rare and deadly diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and leprosy.
We’re also beginning to see outbreaks of diseases common in Third World countries, but never before seen here – diseases like West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever.
Third World Diseases Making Comeback in America
Often it’s illegal immigrants who bring these diseases into the country. Illegal immigrants obviously don’t undergo an initial health screening required of permanent residents who are entering the country legally.
In fact, many cross the border because they are ill, so they can latch onto free healthcare services. Once here, illegal immigrants may pass on these deadly diseases to people they work with, healthcare workers, and lawful citizens.
Currently, many of these diseases are most prevalent in the states along the border with Mexico. For example, in El Paso, tuberculosis cases are twice as high as the national average. You may think if you don’t live near the border that you don’t have to worry about rare or exotic disease outbreaks, but you might be surprised to read some of the states that top the list for exotic disease.
Identified: Ten States with Unusual Outbreaks
Don’t wait around for these states’ Chambers of Commerce to give you this heads up. Here is a list of ten states that have experienced at least one outbreak of a rare or exotic disease. The list includes the five most populous states in the nation and accounts for better than 42% of the U.S. population.
Arizona: No surprise here. Despite Arizona’s efforts to crack down on illegal border crossings, there’s still a steady influx of undocumented immigrants in this state. West Nile Virus entered the United States in 1999 and quickly spread across the nation. In recent years, Arizona has been hard hit with a virulent strain of this once-exotic-but-now-commonplace virus, and patients have been affected with seizures and nerve damage in some cases. Arizona citizens will pay a high cost in personal health consequences for the federal government’s hostile and aggressive opposition to the state’s commonsense attempts to curb illegal immigration.
California: It’s also no surprise that California is home to exotic diseases, but even I didn’t realize that typhoid was making a comeback. In 2009, an outbreak of typhoid fever affected 90 Californians. And, they weren’t the only ones… there were 400 cases reported during the year nationwide. Historically, tens of thousands of Americans have died of typhoid fever, including some 81,000 Union soldiers and two First Ladies, Abigail Adams and Mary Todd Lincoln. The truly scary part is that typhoid has repeatedly evolved to become resistant to more and more antibiotics. There’s no reason to believe that this evolution will not continue, enabling typhoid to reassert its historic role as a major public health threat. Globally, the disease still kills over 200,000 people annually.
Colorado: In Colorado, people are at a higher risk of contracting hantavirus than in other states. Hantavirus can lead to a deadly respiratory infection. It’s spread through rodent waste. Most people get it by drinking from contaminated containers or by inhaling dust in buildings with rodent infestations.
Delaware: Delaware tops the list for Lyme Disease cases, but you may come in contact with infected ticks throughout New England, down through Maryland and as far west as Minnesota.
Florida: In 2010, more than 66 cases of Dengue fever were reported in the Sunshine State. Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes and until very recently was found most often in more tropical regions like India and the South Pacific.
Illinois: Certain insects typically found in South and Central America transmit Chagas disease. It infects you with a parasite that attacks your organs. It’s difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic heart disease, and because most U.S. doctors have never seen it. Several confirmed cases of Chagas disease have been diagnosed in Illinois as well as California, Texas, Florida, New York, and many other states.
New Mexico: If you thought the plague was a disease of bygone days, think again. While the U.S. only sees a handful of Bubonic Plague cases a year, it is still around… and more often than not, it’s in New Mexico. In 2009, 75% of all reported cases were there.
New York: When was the last time you heard of someone having the measles? How about mumps? Both diseases are on the rise in New York.
Oklahoma: You may have thought that Rocky Mountain spotted fever was a thing of the past – a disease you hear about in old Western movies. But, nearly 2000 people contract this bacterial infection every year. A third of the cases happen in Oklahoma, making it the biggest hot spot for this disease of yore.
Texas: Last, but not least… another border state. In Texas, approximately 150 new cases of leprosy – yes, leprosy – are diagnosed each year. Travelers and illegal immigrants bring in some cases, but in Texas the armadillos also carry the bacteria that triggers the disease. So, if you ever go to Texas, don’t wrestle the wildlife!
Keeping Safe from Exotic Diseases
Statistically speaking, the chances of you ever contracting one of these rare or exotic diseases are slim. But, statistics provide cold comfort when you end up being among the unlucky few. Unfortunately, the chance that you will come in contact with one of these exotic diseases is trending upward.
First, let me just say that I’m not suggesting you flee your home state because a handful of people have come down with a strange ailment. But, knowing the risks is important.
And, knowing what you can do to protect yourself is even more important.
When It Comes to Rare Diseases, Prevention Is Your Best Defense
In most cases, using insect repellent and practicing good hygiene habits will keep you safe. In areas where West Nile Virus is prevalent, for example, it’s prudent to wear bug spray and to keep your window and door screens in good repair.
If you live in Colorado, give a little extra attention to how thoroughly you wash your hands and your dishes, especially if you hear reports that the rodent population is high.
To avoid infectious diseases like tuberculosis, try to avoid places where you’re likely to come in contact with those carrying the disease. Public transportation, crowded shopping centers, and hospital emergency rooms are all good places to steer clear of if at all possible.
If you must venture out among the crowds, remember to wash you hands before you eat next and don’t touch your nose or mouth with your hands. By all means take advantage of the hand-washing stations (using gel or pre-moistened towelettes) now posted at the entrances to most major retail centers. Wipe down not only your hands, but the handle of the shopping cart you are using.
Finally, if you do come down with odd symptoms that don’t go away after 72 hours, check in with your doctor. Again, though, visit your regular doctor or an urgent care center. Try to avoid hospital emergency rooms if you can.
Yes, we live in interesting times. The resurgence of many diseases we thought were a thing of the past is just one symptom of the disturbing trends we’re seeing in many different sectors of society, and it serves as one more reminder that it pays to be ready for anything.
Yours in Savvy Preparation,