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When it comes to importing diseases, Chuck Schumer sees the tree, misses the forest

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Health,Immigration,New York,Chuck Schumer,Brazil,World Cup,Central America,Becket Adams

Sen. Chuck Schumer is warning that tourists returning from the World Cup in Brazil could pose a possible health risk to the U.S., requesting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stay on the lookout for the chikungunya virus.

The virus is known to be carried and transmitted by a mosquito commonly found in Brazil.

“We have to prevent the spread of this virus before it reaches the United States in large numbers,” Schumer said Sunday. “The problem here is the World Cup gives the unfortunate opportunity for the virus to spread among people from all nations of the world who are together.”

The New York Democrat also requested that the Department of Homeland Security increase border safeguards, explaining that increases in security are necessary considering that more than 100,000 people in the Caribbean have been affected by the disease.

Although it's rarely fatal, according to CBS New York, the virus can cause arthritis-like joint pain, headaches, swelling and fevers.

“This is not a fatal infection; it’s just a miserable infection,” Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Preventive Medicine, told CBS in a separate report.

Schumer's cautioning against the chikungunya virus, though prudent, is a bit curious.

See, as one of the chief architects of the Senate's so-called "Gang of Eight" immigration bill, which was light on securing the country's southern border, it's unusual to see him encourage stricter controls.

In fact, as Schumer worries about tourists bringing the chikungunya virus back from Brazil, the border between the U.S. and Mexico, an area that Democrats like him have been slow to secure, has been overrun with bands of diseased and abandoned immigrant teenagers and children from Central America.

And very few Democrats seem all that concerned about it.

Among the problems: Border agents recently reported a scabies outbreak among the new immigrants.

"We are starting to see chicken pox, MRSA staph infections; we are starting to see different viruses," Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera told ABC 15 in Phoenix.

"Apparently, a significant amount of communicable disease is suspected by custodial and agent personnel," National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers chairman Zack Taylor told Breitbart Texas.

"What level of medical screening, if any, is being done is unknown. What the medical testing shows is likely not being shared with the agents. And, there are potential communicable diseases that the detainees will not be tested for unless individually requested by a medical officer, which is unlikely without acute symptoms," he added.

Moderate efforts have been made to contain the diseases, but some federal agents say it isn't nearly enough.

"It's not just the disease issues, but the sheer amount of filth that's floating through the air,” Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera told the Los Angeles Times.

In short, the situation is volatile, there doesn't appear to be any slowing of the flow of young immigrants illegally crossing the border and federal agents are not sure what to do to protect the health of Americans.

So although it's refreshing to hear Schumer encourage stricter controls when it comes to U.S. citizens returning from the World Cup, it would also be nice to hear him raise the alarm about the health crisis currently taking place on the country's southern border.

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Author:

T. Becket Adams

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner

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