A recent report by 9News reintroduced Denver to a rare disease, “Doctors investigate case of tuberculosis at George Washington High School.” This case “involves someone who is part of the GWHS community” but can’t say if it is a student or staff member.
TB is slowly disappearing in America. In 1953 there were 84,304 reported cases and in 2021 only 7,822 cases. TB is a bacterial illness spread through the air, not by handshaking or skin contact.
The US is considered a low incidence country, meaning less than 10 cases per 100,000 population per year. Mexico and Central America have up to a 5-fold higher incidence and most African countries have an incidence 10 to 50 times higher.
It should not be surprising to see an occasional case in Denver, just based on statistics. In 2020, 52 people were diagnosed with TB in Denver, a decrease of 21 percent from the previous year. Masking and social distancing, popular during the COVID pandemic, likely played a role in this decline.
According to the Colorado Department of Health, “TB disease burden in Colorado remained highest among racial and ethnic minorities, which is consistent with national epidemiologic trends.”
Are there factors specific to Denver adding to the TB burden? Denver and Aurora are sanctuary cities, meaning that they passed laws protecting illegal immigrants from deportation or prosecution contrary to federal immigration laws. According to the Denver Post, 4000 migrants arrived in Denver during the month between mid-December of last year and mid-January of this year.
Illegal immigrants often arrive from countries with a high prevalence of TB and most are not screened for TB when they enter America, according to researchers from the University of Missouri. Compare this to a century ago when immigrants arrived at Ellis Island where they were screened for TB and other infectious diseases. If infected, they would be treated and if necessary isolated until deemed safe to enter the US. This was at a time when there were limited treatment options for TB.
Migrants, coming from parts of the world where infectious diseases are endemic brings those diseases to America. Not only TB, but measles, polio, and a host of parasitic infections which are rare in the US will be cropping up wherever there is a large population of migrants, including sanctuary cities such as Denver.
If sanctuary policies and political correctness guide Denver governance, expect to see more of these rare diseases in schools and hospitals. And not just in Denver. The state legislature is pushing to create “affordable housing” in Denver suburbs which will expand this problem far beyond Denver city limits.
Elections have consequences and we are seeing the results of basically one-party rule in Colorado. Voters should choose wisely.