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Doctors are concerned about public health with undocumented immigrants flooding the United States and possibly Jefferson County
JEFFERSON COUNTY-By Jennifer Gordy
Doctors tonight are sounding off about a hidden threat to the public with the possibility that undocumented youth could be coming to Southeast Texas. Dr. Carol Batty says, "Our current rate of TB incidence in is fairly very low in Jefferson County." The county's public health department treats about six tuberculosis cases a year. Batty is a private physician and worries that number could skyrocket if the county housed undocumented children. Batty says, "I don't know that there is adequate medical screening at these places and unless you have a kid that's actively coughing I don't know that they are going to come to anybody's attention."
Some Jefferson County Commissioners are also worried about the potential impact on public health. The County Judge and several commissioners have gone on record opposing the possibility of using the vacant Al Price juvenile school to house undocumented children..
Batty says, "I believe it would not be disputed that TB is going to be higher in immigrant groups than in the intrinsic routine American population at this time. Dr. Batty says the public health concern extends far beyond the actual facility that would house the undocumented children, "The problem is going to come first of all whoever works in these facilities are presumably going to be going home to their families at the end of the day taking TB, scabies, H1N1 home to their families and then potentially wherever those family members go to work to school etcetera potentially means that that's not going to be confined." And, the doctor worries it could turn into an epidemic. Batty says, "TB is something that can have a tremendous impact from a public health standpoint in the united states because it jumps across the school aisle, the grocery store aisle, the movie theater aisle, and the airplane aisle. A danger she says would touch children and adults in all walks of life. A danger county leaders and the doctor say we'd only increase by opening this building to undocumented children. The state is warning public health departments to be aware of new immigrants coming to their clinics because of high risks of tuberculosis in immigrants.