Concerns about the large number of undocumented women with children, as well as unaccompanied undocumented children, being housed in military bases and border towns along the U.S./Mexico border have been growing in recent days. Citizens have staged protests demanding solutions and Texas officials have called on the federal government to act. While much of the concern and protest has been focused on the financial burden these undocumented immigrants are inflicting, a new cause for concern is quickly emerging.
Officials from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that they are investigating a mystery illness that has been rapidly emerging in towns and military bases housing these undocumented immigrants. The CDC has outbreak specialists in place who are currently attempting to identify whether the causative agent is bacterial or viral. It is not currently known if the disease emerged from immigrant populations, but its presence has been strongly correlated to detention centers. The disease has been much more prevalent in U.S. born individuals than in immigrant populations, suggesting that immigrant populations may have developed some immunity to the disease and are now acting as carriers.
In addition to more common disease symptoms such as high fever, nausea, and deep muscle pain, the illness also has a disturbing neurological component. Affected individuals seem to be losing many executive mental functions and resorting to a more primitive brain state. Dr. John Chauld of the CDC Outbreak Response Team offered the following statement:
Affected individuals begin exhibiting what appear to be flu-like symptoms. They may experience high fever, muscle aches, and in some cases vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms typically last 2 days. As they subside, we notice a profound neurological shift in about 40% of patients. These patients become very hostile and territorial, almost like feral dogs in the most severe cases. They become especially hostile toward individuals that are of a different ethnic background. We suspect that their brains are reverting to some primitive state that perceives non similar individuals as a threat. This is a very concerning symptom as neurological effects can be extremely challenging to reverse. Our outbreak analysis experts, medical personnel, and research support staff are working around the clock to identify the causative agent of this disease and control this outbreak. The disease does not appear to be fatal, but we do not yet know if the neurological symptoms will be curable.
According to CDC analysis, the outbreak is currently centered in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas with a secondary epicenter in Murrieta, California. Currently the CDC is monitoring 429 active cases. CDC officials are encouraging residents in affected areas to remain calm, but to practice good hygiene practices. If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or extreme feelings of hatred, discontent, or fear you are encouraged to to seek medical attention.