With the Zika virus causing a world-wide medical panic, it makes sense that the U.S. Federal Government should do everything it can to monitor and limit the impact this frightening malady may have on citizens. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is declining to perform basic medical screenings on legal immigrants and visitors from high-risk countries. In a statement obtained by Breitbart, DHS officials said they are monitoring immigrants for symptoms, and only isolating those they who show tangible signs of illness. Pregnant illegal aliens who appear ill are given additional care and testing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
A policy of waiting until symptoms manifest themselves is an unacceptable roll of the dice by the federal government. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in five people infected with Zika never show symptoms. Despite this, it is still possible for them to transmit the disease through birth, sexual activity or blood-to-blood contact (primarily in transfusions). And considering some experts believe the virus can remain in a person’s system for up to a month, there is a risk that many immigrants from Zika-prone countries could spend considerable time in the country before they no longer carry the virus.
Prevention is the foundation of good medicine, so we need to implement common-sense preventive screenings, starting with enhanced body temperature scanning, for individuals coming from high-risk areas. This goes beyond Zika. In 2014, the rise of Ebola led to fear that an epidemic could spread before a proper vaccination could be developed. Insufficient screening resulted in a Liberian national entering the U.S. after being infected with the disease, placing at least 100 other people at great risk of contracting Ebola. As we cannot continue to rely on chance as a practical strategy, a policy of caution is critical to preventing new and known epidemics from breaking out in the United States.
However, even if the CDC and DHS took the necessary steps to properly screen and monitor at-risk immigrants, many who enter the country illegally will slip by these precautions. This means many who may be infected with contagious conditions will go unnoticed unless treatment is sought — another risk that could be mitigated if the federal government took border security seriously.