GOP congressman: Ebola could spread across the border

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Michele Richinick

One Republican thinks the migrant children arriving at the southwestern border of the United States could be introducing American citizens to a deadly virus.

Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia recently expressed his fear that the ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border could trigger a health epidemic. He wrote a letter to Thomas Frieden, director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling on him to act immediately to assess the public risk posed by immigrants.

“Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles. This makes those Americans that are not vaccinated – and especially young children and the elderly – particularly susceptible,” Gingrey, a longtime physician, wrote in the letter.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease in humans, according to the CDC. Nonetheless, it’s not easily transmitted among people because the virus burns out rapidly. Researchers believe patients are more likely to contract the disease from an infected animal, most notably bats.

All cases of human illness or human death related to Ebola have occurred in Africa. No deaths from the hemorrhagic fever have been documented in the United States, nor in the entire Western Hemisphere, according to the CDC.

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