Americans should be told that diseases long eradicated in this country – tuberculosis, leprosy, polio, for example – and other extremely contagious diseases have been linked directly to illegals," Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., told the Business Journal of Phoenix. "For example, in 40 years, only 900 persons were afflicted by leprosy in the U.S.; in the past three years, more than 7,000 cases have been presented."
"This emerging crisis exposes the upside-down thinking of federal immigration policy," he continued. "While legal immigrants must undergo health screening prior to entering the U.S., illegal immigrants far more likely to be carrying contagious diseases are crawling under that safeguard and going undetected until they infect extraordinary numbers of American residents."
The number of cases of leprosy, now known as Hansen's disease, among immigrants to the U.S. has more than doubled since 2000, according to a news report from Columbia University.
While the overall figure is small compared to other countries, some researchers fear the trend could lead to the disease spreading to the U.S.-born population.
"It's creeping into the U.S.," Dr. William Levis, head of the New York Hansen's Disease Clinic, told Columbia News Service. "This is a real phenomenon. It's a public health threat. New York is endemic now, and nobody's noticed."
Levis thinks America could be on the verge of an epidemic.
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