Letter to the editor: Immigrants & disease op-ed misinterpreted | TribLIVE.com
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Several recent letters were prompted by my op-ed rebutting the infectious disease threat to the U.S. posed by illegal/undocumented immigrants. My piece was in response to the argument columnist Walter Williams advanced.

These letters misstate facts or misinterpret my point that the threat of infectious diseases that the U.S. faces in 2018 does not emanate from illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. That threat is dwarfed by ordinary travel, legal immigrants, vacationers and the infectious disease threats indigenous to the U.S.

Shelia R. Krill ( “It’s government’s duty to follow laws on immigrants,” Sept. 18, TribLIVE) falsely states that there is an increase in multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the U.S. when in fact that rate has fallen. In 1993, over 400 cases were reported in the U.S. while in 2017, just 97 occurred. Krill also cites Hansen’s disease (leprosy) while failing to note that over 99 percent of the world’s population is resistant to infection. She writes that I refer to one infectious disease threat as “laughable” but omits the fact that I was referring to scabies, a disease well-established in the U.S., not severe and eminently treatable.

Bob Peirce (“Preventing spread of disease is key point,” Sept. 19, TribLIVE) misinterprets the data I presented about immigration screening. My point was that the diseases screened for are all infections whose primary impact in the U.S. is not from our current undocumented immigrants.

James Chrisner ( “Enemies the real border risk,” Sept. 18, TribLIVE) writes that my piece glosses over the “real issue.” Chrisner fails to realize that my op-ed was in response to Williams’ op-ed and had nothing to do with the other issues mentioned. Further, he appears to have a misunderstanding of infectious diseases as he writes of people coming across the border with anthrax — a noncontagious disease that is endemic in U.S. agriculture.

It is clear that these writers are using infectious disease as a convenient cloak for their true intention. My piece’s purpose was to remove that cloak and allow the true arguments, such as Chrisner’s against “dark-haired, brown-eyed men” (which describes me), to stand naked.

Dr. Amesh Adalja

South Side Slopes

Dr. Amesh A. Adalja is a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease physician and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Follow him on
Twitter @AmeshAA.

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