Migrants in Chicago Shelters Test Positive for TB

Tuberculosis | Image by KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

The Chicago Department of Public Health has confirmed a small number of tuberculosis cases in shelters housing unlawful migrants within the city, just weeks after reporting a vast increase in measles cases within these locations.

The health department has not explicitly stated how many cases have been discovered, but those numbers are expected to be released once the data is confirmed.

Jacob Martin, a spokesperson for the health department, said a small number of tuberculosis cases are common in Chicago each year, with the city annually reporting between 100 and 150 cases, as reported by NBC 5 Chicago.

“I would not characterize this as an outbreak,” he said, per NBC 5. “It’s relatively in line with what we expect to see.”

The city has since said that roughly 10-20% of residents in South and Central America have a latent tuberculosis infection, which helps to explain why the city found cases in a “few different shelters,” according to News Nation.

This tuberculosis outbreak comes shortly after Chicago’s largest migrant shelter had a measles outbreak, with the reported cases accounting for the majority of cases reported in the entire state.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 56 confirmed measles cases have been reported in the state as of April 4, with Chicago logging 33 of the state’s reported cases at a migrant shelter in the city, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The number of measles cases reported in the U.S. in 2024 has already exceeded the total number reported in 2023, with the current 2024 pace set to be 800% higher than the year prior, according to data from the Center for Disease Control.

These outbreaks have been occurring as the U.S. continues to deal with an influx of unlawful migrants since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting more than 7.7 million encounters along the southern border during that period.

Additionally, the House Homeland Security Committee has reported an estimated 1.7 million “gotaways” — those who unlawfully enter the U.S. without being apprehended — have crossed the border during that period.

The Lone Star State has since taken various steps to manage this crisis, but multiple federal lawsuits have hampered the state’s ability to manage unlawful crossings.

Texas is currently involved in lawsuits with the federal government over a state border security law that makes unlawful crossing a crime, a floating barrier in the Rio Grande, and concertina wire along the border.

Several other states have offered their support for Texas’ efforts to stem unlawful entries at the southern border, including Idaho. The state’s governor, Brad Little, sent troops to the southern border this week to assist with border security measures. 

Idaho State Police Colonel Kedrick Wills explained that the troops’ efforts would focus on deterring human smuggling. He noted that the first-hand experience and insights gained during the three-week mission in Texas will be a “crucial measure in our fight against this heinous crime” in the local community, according to KTVB 7.

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