10 Unaccompanied Illegal Alien Minors Diagnosed With TB

By Melanie Hunter | October 10, 2014 | 7:35 PM EDT

Illegal immigrant children face an uncertain future once they arrive in the United States from Central America. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - From January through September, 10 of the unaccompanied minors detained while attempting to illegally enter the United States across the Mexican border were diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB), according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
The children were ultimately allowed to stay in the United States.

"The children were isolated and treated; after being rendered non-infectious, all ten were released to verified sponsors in the U.S.," said ORR spokesman Kenneth Wolfe in an emailed response when CNSNews.com asked if any - and if so, how many - of the unaccompanied minors were tested for TB or enterovirus 68.

"The respective local health department connects with the health department in the city in which the child is released through the inter-jurisdictional TB notification system, and our Office of Refugee Resettlement also notifies the state. Then, the local TB control program follows up with the child and family," said Wolfe.

No minors with active TB are currently in the UAC program, according to Wolfe.

In addition to the 10 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) with TB, 125 minors were diagnosed with chicken pox (varicella) in the same time period.

"Our Office of Refugee Resettlement has not had reports of any other diseases requiring isolation. Our Office of Refugee Resettlement follows CDC guidance on these and other matters of public health concern," said Wolfe.

Unaccompanied minors are given medical screenings when they arrive at U.S. border stations, and if necessary medical treatment, according to Wolfe.

Once they are in the HHS' Unaccompanied Alien Children program, they receive a well-child exam, "all needed childhood vaccinations to protect against communicable diseases" - including TB - and a mental health exam.

"Children from this region of the world participate in comprehensive childhood vaccination programs, similar to the United States, and are generally well protected from most vaccine-preventable diseases," said Wolfe.

"If it is determined that children have certain communicable diseases or have been exposed to such communicable diseases, they are placed in a program or facility that has the capacity to quarantine," he said. "Children with serious health conditions are treated at local hospitals. The cost of this care is fully paid by the federal government."

According to the Customs and Border Patrol, 68,541 unaccompanied children were apprehended on the Southwest border in Fiscal Year 2014 - from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014.