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THE NEW IMPORT: MDR-TB

 

 

 

By Jon Christian Ryter

October 24, 2007

NewsWithViews.com

Approximately forty years ago, diseases like chicken pox, measles, whooping cough, mumps, malaria—and tuberculosis—had been completely eradicated from North America. Then two things happened. AIDS happened. And a lax attitude about border security happened. AIDS became a political football for the secular progressives in Washington. So did border security and turning a blind eye to illegal aliens invading this nation like Santa Ana's march on the Alamo. Only the illegals didn't stop in San Antonio. Like a flood of stagnant water cascading through a broken dike, illegals have flooded the entire United States. Unlike the lawful alien nationals who are required to pass a medical exam when they respectfully seek admission to the United States—illegal aliens, when they sneak across the border (usually because they can't meet the legal requirements for an entry visa) come with their detrimental baggage—usually a criminal or medical history that will disqualify them from even a 24-hour visitor's visa.

Some of them, like 17-year old Francisco Santos, an alien who claimed legal status but couldn't prove it, showed up at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia in medical distress one evening not long ago. On the form he was required to fill out, he listed his country of origin as Mexico. Santos was diagnosed as having highly contagious multi-drug resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB]. Santos had no idea how he contracted MDR-TB. He tried to leave the hospital, telling hospital personnel that he was going back to Mexico. Authorities managed to get an emergency court order and placed him in isolation at the medical facility at Gwinnett County Jail until he could be surrendered to ICE for deportation. How did Santos get MDR-TB? Just being part of a close-contract stream of hundreds of illegals who bring deadly diseases like AIDS and MDR-TB into this country every day believing that America's "free medical care" would cure them.

Amado Isidro Armendariz Amaya, on the other hand, is not an illegal. He's a successful Juarez businessman who builds high-rise apartment buildings. Armendariz is a man with powerful political connections. He's also a frequent flyer. In the last five years, Armendariz, who comes from the State of Chihuahua, has flown out of Juarez 21 times. Armendariz has MDR-TB. Within the last year, Armendariz lost his father and sister to the drug-resistant TB. The government of Vicente Fox knew about Armendariz's condition for the better part of a decade. For the last five years Armendariz was not forced to comply with Mexican Health Department protocols (although he began taking treatments in April of this year. It appears he was allowed to treat himself until that time.) Armendariz traveled by plane to the United States and other countries for business reasons 21 times In the past five years. He took 11 wholly domestic flights in the United States in which American citizens were exposed to his deadly strain of tuberculosis.

Stop and think for a minute what about the fervor raised when the 31-year old Atlanta, Georgia lawyer Andrew Speaker—who also has MDR-TB—traveled to Europe looking for a cure for his highly contagious drug resistant tuberculosis, and was caught on a flight back into the United States from Canada. When they investigated, the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] discovered that Speaker had been on seven domestic and international flights—two of which lasted longer than eight hours. (The World Health Organization [WHO] tuberculosis guidelines which have been officially adopted by the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] and the CDC, require that airlines inform passengers that someone afflicted with highly contagious, deadly MDR-TB shared the air in a passenger compartment with them only if the flight lasts eight hours or more.) That, of course, minimizes panic—and avoids those nasty lawsuits when the passenger is diagnosed with MDR-TB a few years later with no knowledge that they had been exposed to the mycobacterium on a flight they shared with Amado Armendariz, Andrew Speaker or some other passenger with MDR-TB when those infected people should have been placed in sanatoriums the moment they test positive for any form of TB..

Dr. Greg Ciottone, a Harvard physician and Director of the Operational Medicine Institute—who actually flew on one of the flights with Armendariz, said testing all of the passengers on those flights would "...be a worthwhile action to take." Ciottone, who is also Editor-in-Chief of Disaster Medicine, said the reports issued by WHO and the CDC are incomplete. "Even the authors," Ciottone noted, "point out that the data [upon which the agencies based their opinions] is not perfect." Someone arbitrarily pulled a mythical number out of midair and decided that the airborne MDR-TB bacteria coughed up by an infected passenger would not fatally affect anyone—or did they mean everyone—in less than eight hours. "The problem we now face," Ciottone noted, "is the length of time since the event. I think testing these individuals [to determine precisely which ones are infected] would still yield some data that we may be able to glean some useful information from."

In addition to 21 airline flights, Armendariz has also driven into the country (mostly at El Paso) . An internal DHS memo secured by the Washington Times showed that Armendariz crossed the Ysleta Bridge into the United States a total of 52 times. He crossed the Bridge of the Americas 17 times and twice at the Paso del Borte, twice at Presidio, Texas, twice at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico, and once in Calexico, California.

Armendariz has had absolutely no trouble entering the United States even though both Mexican and US authorities know who he is. Unlike Andrew Speaker whose photo has been published in countless newspapers and on TV news programs, the Mexican government and the US CDC have declined to release photographs of Amado Armendariz that would help alert American travelers that a man carrying a deadly, contagious disease was in their midst. In fact, both refused to release either his real name—or the alias he traveled under—even though they have known it for years. His name has entered the mainstream only because a reporter for the Washington Times uncovered it.

Last week Sen. Joe Lieberman [I-CT], Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee said he was very disturbed by an apparent lack of coordination between the CDC and DHS that would allow a Mexican national infected with MDR-TB to cross the Southern border of the United States 76 times without being detained. Particularly since Customs and Border Protection [CBP] officials were first warned on April 16 that Armendariz was infected.

On May 31, someone at the CDC thought it appropriate to issue a warning, but did little else since the CDC had officially adopted the WHO's lax health risk enforcement standards. Dr. Ciottone, who is one of the world's leading experts on disaster medicine, said the government's policy "...is ill-founded, poorly researched, and puts the population at risk. If the powers-that-be, who directly impact the health and well-being of this country are going to stand by this theory that if you spend up to 7 hours 59 minutes next to someone with active TB, you don't need to be tested, then people will become ill."

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Last week congressional lawmakers called for an official investigation to determine why the CDC let Armendariz into the country—and why the DHS nor other "need-to-know" federal agencies were left out of the loop. Dr. Ciottone is pushing to force airline officials to release the names of all passengers on each of the 11 domestic flights and the 10 international flights they know Armendariz flew in order to do a TB skin test on all of the passengers who were on those flights. Not notifying them, Dr. Ciottone said, would be a serious mistake. "They should be tested, and if positive, should undergo treatment as anyone who converts a skin test would. [The passengers themselves] can also yield important data that will help understand transmission of this disease. We simply don't know enough about the transmission of tuberculosis on planes based on the current data."

Wow! And we get to be the guinea pigs!

© 2007 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved

[Read "Whatever Happened to America?"]

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Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.

Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.

E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com


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Armendariz has had absolutely no trouble entering the United States even though both Mexican and US authorities know who he is.