There are two hotspots in the world for coronavirus infections: Wuhan, China (Hubei Province) and Italy. Both of these geographic areas were grappling with tuberculosis outbreaks prior to the eruption of the mutated COVID-19 coronavirus. Strangely, coronavirus appears to spread to the rest of the world from these hotspots via airplane travel. But the infection remains in those infected and may spread within a household, but not into the community. Other geographical outbreaks must be questioned as there are too many false positive tests to confirm COVID-19 coronavirus, which at this point in time may be nothing more than a passenger virus that accompanies tubercular infections.
The COVID-19 epidemic in Italy, which has that country in a lockdown, is worthy of investigation because of the politics and migration in that country.
In a prior report I cited the pre-coronavirus outbreak of tuberculosis in Wuhan China coupled with culling and incineration of herds of pigs infected with African swine flu that created aerosolized pig waste particles that infected humans with a Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is largely a lung disease that kills 1.7 million humans annually. TB may be the origin of this deadly infection as normally coronavirus produces mild infections. Tuberculosis fills the lungs with fluid and the patient drowns in their own secretions. That is what is happening in Wuhan.
Of interest, most cases (70%) of TB in the U.S. emanate from immigrants who travel to the U.S. or who are foreign born and acquired TB years ago, only for latent TB to erupt into symptomatic disease when the immune system could no longer keep it in check. Are reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. occult tuberculosis?
Inexplicably, there are far more cases of COVID-19 in Italy than other European countries. These cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infection occurred, like in China, in a background outburst of TB infections.
Italy’s Prime minister Matteo Salvini claims migrants have brought on this TB plague to his country. News reports dating back to September of 2018 cite Salvini’s assertion that a TB “invasion without rules or controls” has swept through Italy, carried by indigent migrants seeking asylum in his country.
At the same time, denials that migrants are spreading coronavirus throughout Italy have been aired and political criticism has been launched against Prime Minister Salvini for not being humanitarian by blocking entry to Italy by migrants. Political opponents say: “Rescued migrants have been disembarking in Italy for many years; this has not led to any major outbreaks of disease among Italians.”
But now what is to explain the exceptionally high number of COVID-19 infections in Italy compared to other European countries? Maybe it IS TB and not COVID-19.
While TB rates in Italy have generally been low, the rate of COVID-19 infection on a comparative basis is now greater in Italy than in China (97.3 cases per million in Italy, 56.1 cases per million in China)!
It is not necessarily newly arriving migrants that are carrying TB, masquerading as COVID-19 coronavirus, to Italy. TB can remain in a latent state in the human body for many years before it erupts into disease symptoms.
It is latent TB that largely threatens Italy. Poverty, squalid living conditions and stress is thought to reactivate latent cases of TB among migrants in Italy. An estimated 52% of TB cases in Italy emanate among foreigners in Italy. In a study of TB cases in Italy, 65% of study subjects were immigrants and their median time since arrival in Italy was 3.6-12.5 years, which suggests latent rather newly acquired TB predominates. Italy has drastically reduced the number of new immigrants from foreign lands. But it is too late. Latent TB has taken hold.
Closing the borders to migrants in Italy may not quell the number of cases of TB. According to a recent report, there are ~6 million immigrants in Italy. Apart from immigrants, Italy has a very low rate of TB. Place of birth predicts latent TB which predominates in immigrants. Fortunately, while one study shows ~33% of immigrants with TB exhibit no symptoms and could be carriers of TB to infect others, transmission from migrants to the host country population is uncommon. This is believed due to the health status of native Italians.
According to a 2017 report published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2017, the prevalence of tuberculosis of the lungs is 6.7 per 100,000 Italians, however the prevalence among migrants is 80 times greater!
According to Statista, Italy has drastically cut uncontrolled migration from a high of 181,436 in 2016 to just 11,471 in 2019. From 2014 through the first two months of 2020 some 659,380 migrants entered Italy. Reuters reports Italy is fining rescue ships sponsored by charities in an attempt to reduce and even expulse migrants who have no legal right to cross its borders. Despite efforts to reduce or totally block migration into Italy, an estimated 5.3 million foreigners legally reside inside its borders.
Cough is a major symptom of COVID-19. Coughs are often caused by excess mucus in the bronchus, an airway to the lungs. In Italy swelling and narrowing of the bronchus with excess mucus (bronchiectasis) was detected among 52% of COVID-19 cases examined by chest x-ray. However, bronchiectasis is a finding that is far more common (8X) among patients in Italy with a history of tuberculosis (0.47% versus 0.06%) than other lung infections.
A study published in 2017 reveals 56.5% of the cases of TB in Italy were among 18-44 year-olds. Only 13.9% were age 65 and above. The young TB patients are the immigrants with latent TB. The TB cases among seniors likely are high-risk Italians who smoke, drink too much alcohol and are obese, in other words, high-risk for any infection. Only 11% of TB cases occurred among economically deprived individuals (Italians) while 46% of immigrants were financially deprived.
Coinfection with a virus and tuberculosis is a killer. The risk for death is 4.5-fold greater when both viral and tubercular infections co-exist. Coronavirus may be on center stage at the moment. But tuberculosis may be behind the curtains.
The industrialized world has some underlying overconfidence that it is immune from these infectious diseases, what with chlorinated water (eradicated cholera, typhoid and dysentery), fortified foods, and regulations like the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 in the U.S. But migration of indigent people allows a stealth mycobacterium to enter undetected, only to produce symptoms years later.
COVID-19 in U.S.: immigrant ports of entry
Back in the U.S., examination of the states that report the most cases of COVID-19 coronavirus correlate with the number of migrants crossing America’s southern border. California and Mexico having the largest number of COVID-19 coronavirus infections. Mexico is No. 1 foreign importer of TB to the U.S.
Examine the maps below. Italy locked down the northern half of its country first because of the high rate of COVID-19 infection. Northern Italy is the destination of most migrants to Italy.
The States in the U.S. with the highest number of COVID-19 are California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, the states where migrants cross the border. New York is another port of entry with reported cases of COVID-19. This is no coincidence. U.S. authorities may want to consider closing the southern border to the U.S. temporarily until the earth tilts back towards the sun in the Spring solstice and vitamin D levels improve among the masses. Political discourse in Italy over offering humanitarian aid to migrants from foreign lands needs to consider the health and economic consequences of such aid. At this point, both migrants and native Italians face economic disaster over allowing migrants to enter unabated in prior years.