Immigration Centers Struggle To Cope With Mumps Outbreak

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that more than 2,200 people exposed to the mumps at two detention facilities have been quarantined across the country. The mumps exposures reportedly occurred at ICE facilities in Pine Prairie, Louisiana, and Aurora, Colorado. The agency launched a 25-day quarantine that started on March 7.

While there were no reported cases of mumps at any ICE facilities between 2016 and 2018, there have been 236 confirmed or probable cases of mumps in 51 facilities in the past year. Mumps is a viral disease that spreads through the saliva particles of an infected person. The virus can spread quickly through the air through coughing, sneezing and even talking.

Symptoms of mumps include swollen glands, loss of hearing, fever, headache and fatigue. However, some people who have been infected do not experience symptoms or show signs of disease while still being able to spread the virus to others. This can cause the virus to spread quickly through populations that are closely quartered, like those in an ICE detention facility.

According to ICE, more than 50,000 detainees were being held custody at immigration facilities across the country as of March 6. That is a record high, migrant advocates say. There are concerns that the quarantining of the detainees would keep them from attending their court hearings. ICE says that many immigrants have attended hearings via video conference.

Mumps is considered to be an extremely rare condition these days. Reported infections have fallen by 99 percent since widespread vaccinations began in the late 1960s. Mumps is not the only condition being seen spreading across the immigrant population in detention in these facilities. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement, “We are seeing migrants arrive with illnesses and medical conditions in unprecedented numbers.”

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