The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced the formation of a task force to investigate a new mysterious illness afflicting primarily children. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a polio-like illness believed to be caused by a virus. But in contrast to polio, which has been mostly eradicated, except in a few pockets around the globe, AFM is on the rise.
The disease sleuths at the CDC are befuddled. Unlike in the movie The Andromeda Strain, where a crack team of scientists, within a few days, identified and cured a mysterious illness from far beyond the reaches of our galaxy, a bureaucratic behemoth full of scientists is stumped.
When a government agency either does not know the answer, or for political reasons does not want to acknowledge and reveal the answer, they form a task force. By the time the task force settles on a meeting schedule and what types of snacks to serve during meetings, AFM will either disappear naturally or become a mass extinction event.
Perhaps the scientists have some ideas where AFM came from and why it is increasing in prevalence, but if they want to keep their jobs, pensions, and reputations, they feign ignorance. A task force with a few scientists and many more non-scientists, skilled at media and public relations, will eventually announce their findings, scrubbed of anything politically incorrect or offensive to any of the many victim groups in America. But it's worth looking at who's bringing this disease in, because it coincides with recent vast waves of illegal immigration.
AFM begins as a flu-like illness progressing to difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and sudden limb weakness. Most children improve although many are left with residual arm and leg weakness, much like polio. It’s believed to be caused by a virus, specifically Enterococcus D68. AFM incidence seems to spike every other year. In 2018, 38 cases so far. In 2017, 33 cases, but in 2016, 149 cases. In 2015, 22 cases, and 120 cases in 2014.
Much of the U.S media is uninterested in AFM. Jake Tapper and Jim Acosta most likely send their children to private schools plagued by the occasional cold or weekend underage drinking and partying. Their children pal around with other private school kids, returning home to tony neighborhoods free of annoying infectious diseases, whether AFM, or other refugee afflictions such as lice and scabies. CNN is far more concerned with President Trump’s latest tweets.
Most of America doesn’t live the charmed lives of media stars and Washington D.C. politicians, however. Instead they live in lower- or middle-class enclaves. Their kids attend public schools, the same schools frequented by the illegal immigrants settled into their towns.
As the media is incurious about the migrant caravan and illegal immigrants beyond their tweets of outrage and framing the story in a way to inflict maximal damage on President Trump, let’s take a closer look at those migrating to our southern border. Where are the migrants coming from and what diseases might they be bringing to America?
The Association of American Physicians and surgeons asked these questions and took note of the obvious.
What invisible travelers are accompanying them? And what infections are already here in the millions of illegals already dispersed throughout the country?
In the past, waves of immigrants from Europe were stopped at Ellis Island, medically examined, and quarantined long enough to be sure they were not incubating a contagious disease. Procedures are less rigorous today, and of course those who enter illegally are not screened at all.
Polio has been eradicated in much of the world, but is still endemic in three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Polio has also reemerged in the socialist paradise of Venezuela, as reported by CNN. How many migrants are fleeing the Venezuelan hellhole, bringing who knows what with them?
Middle Easterners, despite media claims to the contrary, are also part of the migrant invading force. Some may be bringing jihad, others may be carrying infectious diseases such as AFM. How many of those crossing our southern border receive a comprehensive medical examination? How many in the past have been resettled around America after their brief “catch and release” layover in a border town?
It’s not just AFM that is crossing the border, but many other unpleasant diseases. The CDC reports 300 million legal southern border crossings each year for work and travel. That’s part of the problem. But it’s the illegal crossings that are of most concern regarding contagious diseases.
In July of this year, “A total of 31,303 people were apprehended at the border after illegally crossing into the United States” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. How many were not apprehended? Likely a far greater number. And that’s just in one month.
What disease might these illegal border crossers be carrying? The CDC providesan answer.
Studies have identified the importance of cross-border movement in the transmission of various diseases, including HIV, measles, pertussis, rubella, rabies, hepatitis A, influenza, tuberculosis, shigellosis, syphilis, Mycobacterium bovis infection, brucellosis, and foodborne diseases, such as infections associated with raw cheese and produce.
And let’s not forget that mysterious polio-like illness, AFM, caused by a virus, much like many of the above-mentioned diseases, that has the CDC perplexed to the point of needing a task force to formulate a politically correct explanation and solution.
If you keep the windows of your home open and have a problem with flies, wasps, or racoons entering your home, common sense tells you to install screens, close your windows, or put up with your visitors. Same goes for a national border.
If a country wants screens on its windows, it’s easy enough. The Immigration Act of 1924 severely restricted immigration to the U.S. and established quotas based on nationality. The purpose of this act “was to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity.” So, there is precedent.
Unfortunately, both political parties want the windows open. President Trump and a handful in Congress want to put up screens. And most who voted Trump into the White House want screens, too. Yet many Republicans, bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce, do not. Neither do Democrats needing a growing dependent class to vote them into power.
Yet the suburban parents of some of the children afflicted with AFM are also offended and outraged over Trump’s tweets and treatment of Jim Acosta. They do their children a disservice by supporting the party that wants no screens on America’s windows, no border at all, migrants and diseases free to invade our fruited plains.
The answer for the CDC is not a bureaucratic and politically correct task force, but common-sense analysis and solutions. Secure the border, scrutinize who comes across and stays, and put the well-being of Americans first. How hard is that?
Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.