With the number of unaccompanied children rushing into the U.S. from Central America showing no signs of abating, public health doctors are worried that the influx could lead to a resurgence in childhood diseases which haven't been commonly seen in the U.S. in decades, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Dr. Jason Bowling, who is an infectious diseases physician at U.T. Medicine in San Antonio, says vaccines are more effective when everybody gets them, and when you have a huge population of unvaccinated children flooding in, that causes problems.
"What you would worry about is if you increase your population of unvaccinated children, an increase in childhood diseases would become a problem here in South Texas," Dr. Bowling said.
He says that means that diseases like measles and mumps, which have been held down by common vaccinations in the U.S. may stage a comeback.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stresses that all of the incoming children are tested for lice and scabies before they are allowed into the temporary detention centers like the one at Lackland AFB. Scabies is a skin disease caused by a burrowing parasite, lice gets into a person’s hair.
Bowling says the rush of unvaccinated children into Texas from Central America could turn back the clock on childhood diseases.
"If you get enough measles cases back, you could potentially have it become endemic again," he said. "We are seeing more measles cases than we have seen in some time, and measles is very contagious."
Bowling stresses that he doesn't expect an epidemic of childhood disease in Texas due to the influx of children, but he does feel there will be local outbreaks of diseases which have generally been under control.
"When you start talking about large populations of unvaccinated people, you are talking about the risk of an outbreak of diseases that we haven't had to worry about for years and years," he said.