Migrants And Covid Fatigue Blamed For NYC Tuberculosis Spike

Experts are growing concerned as New York City is experiencing a surge in tuberculosis (TB) cases. It appears the influx of migrants and some of the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could be to blame.

Preliminary data from the city’s health department reveals a concerning trend. There have been approximately 500 new cases of active TB reported in NYC in 2023 thus far. That’s a 20% increase compared to the same period last year. If this trend continues, the city could see the highest number of TB cases recorded in a decade.

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by a specific bacteria — Mycobacterium tuberculosis — spread through the air. It primarily attacks the lungs. Without treatment, TB can be fatal. This poses a problem for the city’s healthcare industry, which is already feeling the strain of climbing case counts in a post-pandemic world with a booming population.

New York City health clinics are struggling to cope with the overwhelming demand, highlighting the urgent need for resources and support to combat this resurgent infectious disease.

Some clinics are reporting wait times that extend into days or even a week or more. Technicians capable of performing diagnostic testing are on short supply as well. Much like they did during the COVID era, hospitals and health clinics are being forced to contract healthcare workers from private companies to meet local demand.

With a reported 125,000 migrants flooding the city this year, the overlap with TB cases is starting to raise questions. Furthermore, migrants often face hurdles when it comes to accessing healthcare. They may be more likely to avoid seeking treatment when they become ill — leading to a potential spread of disease.

The COVID-19 era has left its mark on the healthcare system, and the Big Apple is certainly no exception. Healthcare resources continue to be strained, and the boost in migration to NYC hasn’t helped. With so much focus being placed on COVID, the public health response toward other diseases — like TB — may have been weakened.

The U.S. data supports this theory with a reported 0.2 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2020 — a 13% increase from 2019. Outside of America, TB remains an even larger problem because of limited access to the medications necessary to treat it. Globally, approximately 10.6 million people were afflicted with TB in 2021, and nearly 1.6 million of people with TB died.

Furthermore, many of the migrants who have come into the country illegally this year were likely not vaccinated for TB, which some healthcare professionals claim could contribute to the situation. At the same time, many are arguing that vaccination is a moot point.

Not surprising, in the fallout of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, many people now believe those who received COVID jabs may be more likely to fall ill with other diseases, like TB.

Still, it’s important to retain some perspective on this issue. TB is treatable and curable for most who fall ill with it. To effectively manage the surge of TB in NYC, additional resources will be necessary to support the overtaxed healthcare system.

It is an obvious concern that the growing rate of TB infections could spread across outside of NYC and into other parts of the country.

Early detection and access to various treatment options are likely to produce the best possible outcome. Individuals experiencing a persistent cough, unexplained fatigue or fever should consider their risk of exposure and seek appropriate care.

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