ICE quarantines 2,287 migrants over mumps outbreak
Mar 13, 2019
| By Associated Press – Over 2,200 people exposed to the mumps virus in at least two immigration detention facilities have been quarantined, authorities said Tuesday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the 25-day quarantine began March 7 at facilities in Pine Prairie, Louisiana, and Aurora, Colorado.
The outbreak has renewed long-held concerns over access to medical care at immigration facilities, especially at a time when more immigrants who are crossing the border are being held and for longer periods of time.
47,000 immigrants currently detained
There are nearly 47,000 immigrants currently detained around the country, according to an ICE spokesman.
ICE says 236 detainees have had confirmed or probable cases of mumps in 51 facilities in the past year.
There were no reported cases between 2016 and 2018 at any ICE facilities.
Mumps is extremely rare, and infections have dropped by 99 percent since vaccinations began in the late 1960s. It can spread quickly through coughing, sneezing or even talking, and symptoms include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle aches and pain while chewing or swallowing.
Laura Lunn, managing attorney for the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network’s detention program, said her organization has about a dozen clients who are quarantined in Aurora.
Lunn said the facility has made her clients available for meetings as long as they wear a mask, but that she’s concerned about the health and safety of her staff, and is looking at alternate ways to meet with them.
None of her clients actually have mumps and all are Mexican or Central American men.
“The most profound restriction is people are not being taken for immigration court. They aren’t able to move forward with their cases and it’s prolonging their detention,” Lunn said.
Immigrant advocates have long said that medical care at immigration detention facilities is subpar, and they’ve filed several lawsuits after deaths or injuries in detention. Read more.
Nearly 200 immigrants detained in Texas have contracted mumps
Mar 11, 2019
CNN – More than 2,000 people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody are being quarantined amid an outbreak of mumps and other diseases.
The numbers of immigrants in custody with a contagious diseases has spiked in the past year. For the previous two years, the agency has not encountered a single case of mumps among its detainees. ”
As of March 7, 2019, there was a total of 2,287 detainees cohorted for exposure to a detainee with a contagious condition,” said ICE spokesperson Brendan Raedy in a statement.
In the past 12 months, there have been health investigations at 51 ICE detention facilities for mumps, chickenpox and influenza, according to Raedy.
There have been 236 reported cases of mumps, with another 16 suspected cases during this time period.
Mumps is a contagious virus that is typically spread through saliva and mucus. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite and puffiness around the cheeks and jaw from swollen salivary glands.
Last year, there were 423 people documented with influenza and 461 people with chickenpox in ICE custody, according to the agency.
“ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care. ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care,” Raedy said in a statement.
Last week, Texas officials announced that nearly 200 people at immigration detention facilities across the state had contracted mumps since October.
The 186 patients ranged from 13 to 66 years old, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday.
“They should be in isolation,” said Dr. David Persse, of Houston’s public health authority last week. Read more.
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