Department Of Homeland Security

More Than 850 Migrants Affected By Mumps Outbreak In US Detention Facilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Tuesday outlining the severity of a mumps outbreak in a total of 57 immigration detention facilities in 19 states since their opening across the United States.

The report includes details on the conditions of the centers contributing to the spread of disease, culminating in a finding that the virus has sickened 898 adult migrants and 33 detention center staffers.

The CDC report explains that more than 80% of migrants contracted the virus while in custody.

Instagram | @cdcgov

Mumps is highly contagious, characterized by swollen glands, puffy cheeks, fever, headaches, and potential hearing loss.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox says that most migrants likely became infected while in their countries of origin, but the CDC report proves otherwise.

Most of the outbreaks have taken place in detention centers in the state of Texas.

Instagram | @docmedschool

The Texas Department of State Health Services called for action nearly a year ago in what the CDC report calls "a coordinated national outbreak response."

The specific detentions centers have not been identified, though the Associated Press stated that 34 of the centers are owned by private companies.

Nashville immigration attorney R. Andrew Free has been attempting to track mumps outbreaks in these facilities.

Department Of Homeland Security

"This has all the makings of a public health crisis," Free stated. "ICE has demonstrated itself incapable of ensuring the health and safety of people inside these facilities."

During an inspection of the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center, the Department of Homeland Security observed "detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets."

Children in these facilities are particularly at high risk of contracting the virus.

Department Of Homeland Security

The CDC recommends "washing hands often with soap and water" to avoid contracting the disease, and "staying away from others if you're infected to minimize the risk of the disease spreading."

However, earlier reports by the Department of Homeland Security found "children... held for weeks in deplorable conditions, without access to soap, clean water, showers, clean clothing, toilets, toothbrushes, adequate nutrition or adequate sleep," meaning that these kids do not have access to the care they need to prevent contracting these viruses.

The CDC report concludes with a statistic that serves as a warning.

Department Of Homeland Security

"Despite increased vaccinations, as of August 22, 2019, mumps outbreaks are ongoing in 15 facilities in seven states," the report reads, "and new introductions into detention facilities through detainees who are transferred or exposed before being taken into custody continue to occur."

However, it is important to note that the CDC report only looked at the spread of mumps, not other diseases.

Department Of Homeland Security

The Associated Press reports that at least two migrant children have died of flu in detention facilities since the beginning of 2019.

Another important thing to note is that although a number of vaccines have been administered, the CDC report details that the vaccines do not effectively treat mumps if someone has already been exposed:

"The MMR vaccine has not been shown to be effective at preventing disease in persons already infected with mumps; facilities should be aware that cases might occur among detainees exposed before vaccination."

The adverse conditions in these facilities ensure that any viruses can and will be spread among the entire population of the facility.

Department Of Homeland Security

It is clear from these reports that action must be taken to ensure safer and more sanitary conditions for migrants at these detention facilities. Regardless on one's opinion on illegal immigration, even detainees have a right to basic resources and physical safety.

h/t: CDC, Associated Press