We can never really eradicate most infectious diseases. More often, it’s a question of controlling infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as the name implies, used to focus solely on this massive job. And they did the job well for a while.
But today, many once-controlled infectious diseases — such as tuberculosis, dengue fever, and leprosy — are making a comeback. One simple step could help control this spread of these diseases, if only the government would act. I’ll tell you more about why they won’t act in a moment. But first, let’s back up.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the CDC did such a good job controlling infectious diseases, Congress actually began to cut (or, more appropriately, reduce the growth rate of) funding for old government infection control programs.
But the CDC didn’t want to be left behind in terms of government funding. So bureaucrats lobbied Congress to expand their mission so they could get involved in chronic diseases like cancer, Type II diabetes, and heart disease. Those efforts, as I often report, generally resulted in lamentable, misguided failures.
In the meantime, while nobody was paying attention, infectious diseases made a dramatic comeback in the 1980s, primarily starting with HIV/AIDs.
And it’s a crying shame.
First of all, the HIV infection is 100 percent preventable. But the CDC and government health officials refused to take the simple steps that would have prevented the spread of this infection.
Second, people with AIDS, which is an immune deficiency, are highly susceptible to secondary infections. So since the 1980s, people with AIDS also spread exotic viruses, atypical tuberculosis, avian infestations, fungal infections, and other microbes, which had previously been extremely rare or completely unknown in human populations.
So — with its inaction — the government allowed the spread of both the primary infection (HIV/AIDS) and all the associated secondary infections. Since then, dealing with infections has suddenly become a growth industry again (sometimes growing faster than the microbes themselves).
The rise and fall — and resurrection — of the vaccine industry
During the first half of the 20th century, big pharma (not yet so big) created some useful, generally effective vaccinations to prevent certain infections such as polio and smallpox.
But by the 1970s and 1980s, I remember senior doctors and researchers telling me big pharma no longer wanted to develop new vaccines because it was no longer profitable. Rather, they considered it something the government should undertake or subsidize as a “public service.”
By the late 20th century, vaccines came back in vogue again.
And at the same time, Congress passed laws to make big pharma “immune” from being sued for damages caused by vaccines. Instead, a taxpayer-funded program now reimburses victims for damages caused by vaccines.
The obvious questions arise: If vaccines are as safe as big pharma and big government insist they are, why does big pharma have to be legally “immune” from prosecution? And why do the taxpayers need to fund a program to compensate vaccine victims?
So, following this tragic prelude, many infectious diseases are now coming back with a vengeance — decades after the CDC had wiped them out. (Or at least controlled them.)
Another victory of politics and political correctness over public health and common sense
The new spread of once-controlled infectious diseases relates directly to the illegal immigration problem in the U.S. Having no control over our borders also means having no control over infectious diseases.
Of course, the government minimizes the fact that illegal immigrants bring dangerous, infectious diseases across our borders every day.
As I see it, this government’s minimization of the problem is all part of its disinformation campaign to “sanitize” illegal immigration and portray all critics as “anti-immigrant.” In terms of the federal government’s constitutional responsibilities, this behavior is completely unaccountable. (Unless they are simply counting more future votes from “low information,” misinformed voters with their hands out.)
The U.S. Border Patrol publishes periodic reports on the numbers of people caught crossing the borders illegally. But no agency publishes reports on the diseases they bring with them.
Is anybody home at the CDC in Atlanta?
Instead of pursuing multi-million dollar, flawed, failed campaigns to restrict salt and “control” blood pressure, maybe they should focus once again on controlling infectious diseases — this time as they enter our borders.
The U.S. government managed to accomplish this simple step more than 100 years ago with a tiny fraction of the budget the CDC has now. (Of course, that was before the government created income tax to fund so many more of all the other “essential” government functions.)
Infectious diseases from around the globe taking the U.S. by storm
Plus, in 2014, for the first time in decades, more than half the illegal immigrants to the U.S. came from countries other than Mexico. So now — the spread of infectious disease is an even more complex, global problem.
In February 2015, a report of the Southern Medical Association cautioned that none of the 700,000 illegal immigrants had been screened for infectious diseases, exposing U.S. citizens to highly contagious diseases such as resistant tuberculosis. Illegal immigrants also can carry Chagas disease, dengue fever, and leprosy — all of which are making a comeback in the U.S. after having long been controlled or eradicated here.
Accordingly, last year the head of the Texas State Medical Association called for a quarantine on children arriving at the border, in accordance with professional medical standards. Instead, the Obama Administration forced U.S. government agencies to expedite, not slow, the processing of these children.
The media created the hysteria over a measles outbreak at Disneyland supposedly due to unvaccinated U.S. school children. But did anyone besides me, as I reported in a Daily Dispatch last fall, consider that it’s just a one-hour drive from an uncontrolled border with Mexico?
While the government fails shamefully in its responsibilities to the American citizens, you can help protect yourself by taking the same precautions I recommend against simple cold and flu viruses. Before a microbe gets into your body, it is vulnerable to your own personal infection control measures.
As usual, as a responsible citizen, you must do for yourself what the government fails to do what it is supposed to do.