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Crisis at the Border, Volunteer Doctors Struggle To Provide Stopgap Care To Immigrants | Kaiser Health News

It wasn’t the rash covering Meliza’s feet and legs that worried Dr. José Manuel de la Rosa. What concerned him were the deep bruises beneath. They were a sign she could be experiencing something far more serious than an allergic reaction.

Besides the obvious, the doctor wonders "Has this child been immunized"? What other illnesses could the child have had, and what is he now carrying?

The doctor is also thinking about the possible hundreds of children who are not being vaccinated due to the false myth that vaccination causes autism.  Vaccination for mumps, measles, rubella, polio and other diseases we rarely encounter in the United States.

 In the absence of a coordinated federal response, nonprofit organizations across the 1,900-mile stretch have stepped in to provide food, shelter and medical care. Border cities like El Paso, San Diego and McAllen, Texas, are used to relying on local charities for some level of migrant care. But not in the massive numbers and sustained duration they’re seeing now. As the months drag on, the work is taking a financial and emotional toll. Nonprofit operators are drawing on donations, financial reserves and the generosity of medical volunteers to meet demand. Some worry this “new normal” is simply not sustainable.

Dr. José Manuel de la Rosa writes a prescription at a makeshift clinic in an old warehouse in El Paso.

Why the crisis and danger?  The number of California children granted medical exemptions from vaccinations has tripled in the past two years.

Recently there have been sporadic cases of a polio-like syndrome with paralysis from an entero-viral illness (diarrhea, stomach cramps). Many migrant children have diarrheal illnesses when they arrive and by the time they are interred in refugee camps with poor hygiene and crowded facilities they have become a breeding ground.  Measle has reappeared as well. 

The current immigration problem has largely been ignored as a public health crisis. Immigrants come from a totally different immune environment. When North America was repopulated by Europeans the native Americans were decimated by new diseases were incapable of fighting. Of course, at that time the biologic diversity between Europe and a New World was far greater than migrants from Central America. (or is it?)

On The Border, Volunteer Doctors Struggle To Provide Stopgap Care To Immigrants | Kaiser Health News: As recent arrivals are released from detention with severe medical problems ranging from diarrhea to gaping wounds, a makeshift health system of volunteers is overwhelmed. The work is taking a financial and emotional toll.

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