By James Simpson – BarbWire guest contributor
In late August and early September, hospitals across the nation began reporting an explosion of severe respiratory illnesses among children. Children’s Hospital Colorado treated about 3,600 children between August 18 and September 24, and at least 692 since. On September 5th, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital saw a one day record of 540 kids. The emergency room was filled to capacity. Mobile, Alabama’s USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital reported 340 cases by September 12th. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri had seen 450 patients as of September 7th, 60 of whom required intensive care. At least six Chicago area hospitals were so overwhelmed that they stopped admitting patients under 18 “until further notice.” Many infected children across the country are experiencing some form of paralysis. Six children and at least two adults have died.
Government health officials haven’t offered any explanation for the unusual outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control has pointedly refused to disclose the states where children have died or even specific locations of outbreaks. State and local officials are similarly closed mouthed. Except for suggesting routine precautions, public officials largely refuse to offer any details whatsoever, and in some cases have spread misinformation. And the media seem incapable of penetrating the wall of silence, simply repeating the official narrative. But there is significant, almost irrefutable evidence that this outbreak is the direct result of this year’s illegal alien invasion from Central America.
Frequently called the “mystery” illness, no healthcare professional has offered an explanation for how it got here or why it is hitting children now. The worst cases have been identified as stemming from Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Enteroviruses are among the most common pathogens, responsible for a wide variety of illnesses, including polio, but usually infections are mild. There are over 100 Enterovirus variants and about 10 to 15 million cases in the U.S. each year. The CDC explains away the outbreak by citing this figure, and noting that many more children die each year from influenza.
But this outbreak is different. Before this year, the D68 strand was almost unheard of. Between 1970 and 2005, only 26 cases of EV-D68 were reported in the U.S. Yet this year, in less than two months, the CDC has reported 780 cases in 46 states, and there are likely many more undiagnosed. Half the specimens tested by the CDC are EV-D68, but since August there have been thousands—perhaps even tens of thousands—of severe respiratory cases treated around the country that the CDC has not tested. D68 also seems to be associated with the paralysis occurring among many of the infected, but doctors are unsure how. In early 2014, a polio-like virus crippled 25 children in California. Enterovirus was suspected, and the symptoms were similar to those seen among children in Asia and Australia.
During the start of any school year, an uptick in communicable illnesses among children is typical, but this year’s outbreak of serious respiratory illnesses is extraordinary. Children’s Mercy Hospital’s division director for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, called it “unprecedented,” adding that “It’s worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care…I’ve practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”
The timing of the outbreak is also unusual. While human enteroviruses (HEV) are common in the summer, they mostly infect the gastrointestinal tract. Human rhinoviruses (HRV), which cause the common cold, are the usual suspects in respiratory illnesses, but those become prevalent in flu season—the winter months.
The flood of illegal alien minors coming across our southern border this year is the elephant in the room that no one is mentioning. Most of these youths traveled from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—the so-called Northern Triangle states. Unlike America, where EV-D68 is almost unheard of, in Central and South America it is very common. A recent study of Central and South American young people (ages 0 – 25) infected with influenza-like infections (ILI), identified HRVs (548) and HEVs (84). EV-D68 was identified in 12 percent of the HEV infections. While not a lot in absolute numbers (10) that is an astounding rate when compared with the historical rarity of D68 in American children. Among age groups, those from under one-year-old to age five had two-thirds of all HEVs. These were random samples. See the chart below.
The report concludes:
In Latin America as in other regions, HRVs and HEVs account for a substantial proportion of respiratory viruses identified in young people with ILI, a finding that provides additional support for the development of pharmaceuticals and vaccines targeting these pathogens.
The only Northern Triangle country included in the study was El Salvador, but 50 percent of the El Salvador group had HEV, a larger percentage than any other country.
According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) a total of 15,800 Salvadoran youths between 0 and 17 years of age were apprehended at the border between January 1 and August 31 of this year. Another 31,543 Honduran and Guatemalan youths came with them. Furthermore, this is not the total count. To date, 68,434 unaccompanied alien youths have been apprehended this year.
Most were not unaccompanied either. News reports regularly “forget” to mention that another 65,000 “family units” actually accompanied them. In total, 242,329 “Other Than Mexicans” crossed the border so far this year. The swamped holding facilities used for these illegals acted as incubators for a host of virulent illnesses, including swine flu, tuberculosis—even drug resistant TB—pneumonia, many other undiagnosed respiratory illnesses, measles, chicken pox, and numerous parasites. According to health officials, Enterovirus infections are usually the “fecal-to-oral route.” However, significantly, respiratory and oral-to-oral infection occur “in crowded living conditions.” The virus can survive for days at room temperature.
The DHS Inspector General acknowledged that “Many UAC and family units require treatment for communicable diseases, including respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, chicken pox, and scabies.” The CDC called it an “urgent humanitarian situation.” A Federal Law Enforcement Training Center facility in Artesia, New Mexico used to house illegals was locked down following an outbreak of chickenpox this summer. CBP personnel have become sick with scabies, chicken pox and lice while tending the illegals in border facilities.
CBP Agent Ron Zermeno is the health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613. He works in the San Diego, California area and charged that DHS “knowingly transported illegal immigrants to facilities that were unequipped to process them; disregarded repeated warnings…about the public-health risks posed by the immigrants, many of whom were suffering from infectious diseases; rejected multiple offers of assistance from local officials; and suspended law-enforcement operations at part of America’s southern border…”
He said that more illegals were sent to his Border Patrol facility than it could handle, and they were released without proper health screening, adding that the order to do this was “concealed for unknown reasons” from the public and lawmakers. Finally, he said that caring for the flood of illegals took CBP away from its primary job of protecting the border. As a result drug traffickers had an open invitation to operate in the critical area along California’s I-15 Interstate. The border was essentially left unchecked. Zermeno’s reward was to be disciplined for blowing the whistle.
Given the many children and families likely carrying EV-D68 and other pathogens before reaching the border, the rapid spread of disease within these holding facilities, and poor or non-existent disease screening, it is not unreasonable to believe that thousands could have been dispersed throughout the U.S. with either a live infection or carrying the virus.
Media interest in this story has been tepid. When the outbreak began, the sheer number of cases was newsworthy; then the appearance of EV-D68 added fuel to the fire. But since mid-September, little has been published—despite the fact that eight people with D68 have died. Only three of the eight have been identified and little information about the other five has been published. All we know about the two adults, for example, is that they were treated at a Colorado hospital. We know nothing about the other three children. Media have reported the outbreaks, but no one is digging at all.
The CDC will not disclose anything except their regularly updated chart of states, which only reports the total number of D68 cases. They will not disclose which cities, or even which states, have had fatalities from the illness. It would help to know at least the total cases broken down by state. The CDC has the information, since it is the only facility with the capability to test for D68. When reached last week, CDC spokesperson Darlene Foote refused to quantify the number of D68 cases by state. Karen Mason of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases said that the CDC defers to the state health departments on such details, and suggested contacting them for the information. They would provide no further information.
State health departments had little to add. When queried about total state cases in Virginia, for example, the health department responded that they didn’t keep track of total cases because EV-D68 is not reportable under Virginia code and they do not have the facilities to test for it in any event. Following confirmation by the CDC, Virginia did report cases in the “northern region of Virginia, as well as the central and eastern regions.” They would not disclose any more detailed information regarding the locations of these outbreaks, citing “privacy” concerns.
It is virtually impossible to learn directly which schools took in this year’s crop of illegal children. As result of a liberal 1982 Supreme Court decision, all public schools must accommodate them. Furthermore, School districts are not allowed to ask about a student’s citizenship or immigration status, nor can they inquire of parents’ immigration status. To establish residency for eligibility to a certain school district, the parent can provide minimal proof, for example a utility or phone bill, or even just an affidavit.
Nonetheless, we can confirm that this year’s illegals have been placed in almost every county that has reported an outbreak of EV-D68. HHS provides a list of 137 counties within the U.S. where illegals have been placed this year. It is incomplete because they only list those counties that received 50 or more illegals. The table below lists those counties, and the number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) placed in them; and compares that with reported Enterovirus outbreak locations. Note that while hundreds of cases have been reported nationwide, only a few states have identified where outbreaks occurred.
|County Comparison of Enterovirus Breakout with UAC Placements|
a Influenza-Like Infections
b Uncertain how many, if any illegals were located in these counties
We can also confirm that schools where outbreaks have occurred all accept “undocumented children” into their programs, although it was impossible to determine whether or not this included this year’s arrivals.
Four-year-old Mercer County, New Jersey, pre-schooler Eli Waller died in late September as the direct result of EV-D68. His was the first case linked directly to the disease. The Hamilton school district has a population of 14 percent “foreign born,” mostly from Guatemala. Yardville Elementary, the school he attended, has an English as a second language (ESL) program, although it has a lower proportion than other district schools.
Ten-year-old Emily Ortrando of Cumberland, Rhode Island was admitted to the hospital with EV-D68 in late September and died of complications resulting from a staph infection shortly thereafter. Doctors are unsure what role D68 played in her death, but it likely at least reduced her resistance to infection. Community Elementary, where Emily attended school, is one of six elementary schools in the district, all of which offer ESL. The district boasts that it is a magnet for such students.
Madeline Reid, a twenty-one month old toddler from Clinton Township, Michigan, died on October 10 following three weeks on life support in Detroit hospitals. Clinton is in Macomb County, a suburb of Detroit. While the HHS chart only lists Kent County, home to the city of Grand Rapids, UACs would likely be in or near Detroit as well. In nearby Washtenaw County, a baby has become paralyzed by Enterovirus.
In Alabama, five year old Kinley Galbreath has been completely paralyzed for one month, able to communicate with her mother only by blinking her eyes. She was ill for one week before being admitted to intensive care. She said, “Mommy, my hands are going numb.”
There were 12 cases of paralysis and at least two adult deaths in Denver, Colorado, which recorded a huge number of young patients with severe respiratory illnesses in August and September. The Denver area is home to a very large illegal alien population, despite recording placement of only 64 UACs this year. Information regarding the other three deaths is simply nonexistent.
In Baltimore, Maryland, nine-year-old Drew Ratajczak made news following hospitalization for D68-like symptoms. Like Virginia and other states, Maryland’s state health department says there is no requirement for doctors to report individual cases, so his case was never diagnosed. Fortunately he recovered. Drew is a student at Red House Run elementary in Rosedale. According to the school’s website, 6 percent of students are enrolled in the Limited English Proficiency program. The principal said that there were new children admitted to the LEP program this year, but they are every year. She could not say whether or not these children were among this year’s flood of illegals. They are not provided that information, and as cited earlier, they are not allowed to ask. She said that the kids are sent to the school and they must accommodate them, no questions asked.
So the death toll is eight and counting. Thousands of children have fallen ill. Some are partially paralyzed. Nasty diseases eradicated in the U.S., like tuberculosis and polio, may be getting reintroduced, courtesy of our southern neighbors. New diseases, unheard of in the U.S., like Dengue Fever, the deadly Chagas Disease, and Chikungunya have already appeared. SOUTHCOM Commander, General John Kelly recently suggested that if Ebola becomes prevalent in Mexico or Central America, then “it’s Katie bar the door.” There will be a mass rush for the border as millions surge north to escape or seek medical attention. The first case of Ebola in Mexico was diagnosed in August.
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to promote his open borders agenda. In a speech on October 2nd at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute awards dinner he said, “No force on earth can stop us!” Obama also mentioned that two illegal alien “dreamers” accompanied him in the presidential limo from the White House to the event.
Far from being a random development, the growing public concerns over Ebola and the Enterovirus appear to playing into the administration’s game plan to distract public attention from the accumulation of scandals that have as yet elicited zero accountability from the Perpetrator-in-Chief and his minions.
James Simpson is an economist, former White House budget analyst, businessman and investigative journalist. His articles have been published at American Thinker, Accuracy in Media, Breitbart, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily, and others. His regular column is DC Independent Examiner. Follow Jim on Twitter & Facebook.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.