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A member of Congress who for more than 30 years worked as a doctor says the baggage that illegal aliens are bringing into the United States now is killing people.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told WND that it’s not suitcases, clothes or the like – it’s the highly infectious cases of drug-resistant and lethal tuberculosis that are walking across the Mexican border.

“It is something I am aware of and it is definitely a factor to consider in the immigration debate,” Burgess said.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that generally attacks the lungs, although it can attack any part of the body. The disease is easily spread when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or even talks in the presence of another person. If not properly treated the disease can be fatal.

The disease has been around since ancient times and tuberculosis was once the leading cause of death in America. Among the disease’s victims was the legendary Doc Holiday, who died in a tuberculosis ward in Colorado Springs.

While the 20th century development of antibiotics resulted in the disease being virtually eradicated in America by the 1960s, in recent years TB has been making a comeback with new strains that are resistant to most antibiotics.

Get the real explanation for the convolutions in Obamacare, in “Doctor in the House,” by Dr. Michael Burgess.

Last week it was reported that a persistent strain of tuberculosis had developed in some Los Angeles neighborhoods. Officials said as many as 4,500 people may have been exposed to the disease.

The Los Angeles Times reported the strain appeared to be unique to the region and concentrated among the homeless. Because TB is highly contagious, there is a potential for a widespread outbreak as homeless individuals often move around from place to place.

Last week officials advised police to wear protective surgical masks while dealing with suspects or members of the public who may have been exposed to the disease.

Los Angeles is not the only major city to have problems with the disease. Since 2008, Jacksonville, Fla., has suffered from a TB outbreak that officials with the Center for Disease Control said was among the worst seen in 20 years.

Despite the outbreak’s severity, the public was not informed of the danger until months after the CDC began tracking it. The reason given was the authorities felt they had the disease contained in 2008, despite cases being reported in other parts of the state.

Besides California and Florida, the states with the greatest number of multi-drug-resistant TB are Texas and New York, all having large numbers of illegal aliens within their borders. Florida was recently ranked as having the third largest illegal alien population by the Department of Homeland Security. Many illegals in Florida come from the Caribbean and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, some of which have widespread problems with tuberculosis.

Last month, My San Antonio reported U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents had captured an illegal alien from Asia who was captured while trying to cross the Mexican border Nov. 27. The man was diagnosed with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, the least treatable form of the disease.

See a video on the issue:

In the past, WND has reported on the dangers caused to the U.S. medical system by illegal aliens with drug-resistant strains of diseases including tuberculosis. A report in the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons warned how the influx of illegal aliens threatened to destroy the American medical system.

“By default, we grant health passes to illegal aliens,” wrote Madeleine Peiner Cosman, author of the report. “Yet many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue, and Chagas disease.”

“Many illegals who cross our borders have tuberculosis. That disease had largely disappeared from America, thanks to excellent hygiene and powerful modern drugs such as isoniazid and rifampin. TB’s swift, deadly return now is lethal for about 60 percent of those infected because of new Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR- TB). Until recently MDR-TB was endemic to Mexico.”

Burgess pledges that he will take steps to make sure the issue of illegal aliens introducing drug-resistant strains of these diseases is addressed as the House considers any immigration bills.

“This is something I am going to push for us to look at in the Oversight Committee on Energy and Commerce,” Burgess told WND. “The issue came up a couple of years ago in late 2010. We had some hearings a couple of years ago but it is time to ask some questions again.”

WND columnist Barbara Simpson wrote about the issue recently.

“Who’s in charge of this stupidity?” she wrote. “No immigrant should be allowed in this country without a complete health check.”

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