In addition to the crime and homelessness connected to an ongoing influx of undocumented migrants into New York City, recent reports suggest that there has also been an uptick in a potentially deadly disease amid the ongoing immigration crisis.
According to health statistics, there have been about 500 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed within the Big Apple thus far this year, which is about 20% higher than at the same point in 2022.
NYC health dept employees "who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly."
TB outbreak is worrying but so is the fact that our health officials are muzzled about it. https://t.co/CnXKiPxKTu
— Amy Maxmen, PhD (@amymaxmen) October 5, 2023
The current rate is also the highest the city has seen in more than a decade, and many experts point to the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants in recent months as a likely cause for the surge.
In a report published last year, the National Institutes of Health concluded: “Refugees and migrants are the most affected populations at risk of developing TB and other infectious diseases due to their living conditions. Poor living conditions and overcrowding in refugee settlements potentially increase the risk of TB infection.”
Some other factors could be contributing to the rise in New York City cases, however, including so-called COVID fatigue and reduced funding for TB research and treatments within the city.
In any case, this issue is likely to spread beyond New York City’s borders due to the extensive rate of travel into and out of the city.
Elizabeth Lovinger of the Treatment Action Group said that the data reflects “a more dramatic resurgence than we would have probably expected,” adding: “When there are particularly high spikes in TB and other infectious diseases in New York City, that tends to be kind of a bellwether for the rest of the country.”
Although local officials have not yet confirmed any specific plan to address this increase in diagnoses, one New York City Department of Health spokesperson said that the city remains a “leader in TB care” and has “pioneered treatments and therapies” to address the disease.
“Additionally, we have a contract with a local provider that is worth up to $500,000 to ensure that New Yorkers receive care and that we have additional capacity in place should anyone need services,” the spokesperson said.