SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — More than two dozen migrants who entered the United States and were diagnosed with tuberculosis before being returned to Mexico and other countries last year remain unaccounted for.
According to information released by Mexico’s Health Secretary, a total of 74 migrants were diagnosed with tuberculosis, and most of them sought follow-up medical care south of the border. But 25 of them remain unaccounted for and their whereabouts are unknown.
TB primarily attacks the lungs but it can also infect the kidneys, the spine and the brain. It can be fatal and easily spreads.
Patients, including the migrants, are supposed to be monitored for at least six months, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health.
Both the U.S. and Mexico share health data related to infectious diseases along the border such as tuberculosis and COVID-19.
Of the 74 cases last year, 62 of the diagnosed migrants were sent back to Mexico and others were referred to Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru.
Health officials in Baja California said that of those returned to Mexico, on 17 had come through Tijuana but the others arrived in border cities such as Juárez and Matamoros.
Mexico’s Health Secretary says there are “weaknesses” in the system that allows migrants to find themselves in Northern Mexico where tuberculosis can spread.
The agency also notes many migrants returned to Mexico arrive without their medical records, medications or treatment strategies.
In a report, officials noted there are many instances where the expelled migrants don’t follow up on their treatment creating a “potential risk of generating multiple infections.”
The National Tuberculosis Control Program in Mexico reports in the years between 2007 and 2022, there have been 1,260 reported cases of migrants coming down with tuberculosis along the border.