You've probably heard political pundits contending that the recent outbreak of Enterovirus 68 in the midwest was spread by unaccompanied immigrant children who settled there after being released by U.S. Border Patrol. We decided to look into that and verify the claim, but found that there is no proof of a correlation between the two. Here are ten facts about Enterovirus that will change your perception about the outbreak, along with sources for each fact.
1. Enterovirus 68 is not new in America. It was first reported in 1962 in California, and it could be related to earlier enterovirus outbreaks in Asia. Enterovirus 68 has been reported in the United States every year since 1987. What is unusual this year is the higher number of cases. Source: CDC.
2. It is common for outbreaks of Enterovirus this time of year. The virus usually begins infecting people in late summer and into the fall, but the number of cases decreases as fall moves on. Children with asthma or similar respiratory diseases are more susceptible to the virus. Source: CDC.
3. The first cases of Enterovirus 68 were reported in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. The location of the outbreak is important, as it does not correlate with large numbers of immigrant children in those areas. Source: CDC.
4. Missouri and Illinois are not significant destinations for unaccompanied immigrant children. Contrary to some reports in online media (none from reputable news sources), the areas affected by the outbreak did not receive large numbers of immigrant children from the border surge. The entire state of Missouri only received 173 immigrant children, ranking them at #34 out of 50 states in terms of number of immigrant children received. Illinois received 437 children, ranking them #18 out of 50. Source: US Office of Refugee Resettlement.
5. The top ten states receiving immigrant children have seen no major Enterovirus 68 outbreaks. Texas, New York, California, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, the top ten states receiving immigrant children, have not seen significant Enterovirus 68 outbreaks. Source: U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.
6. No cases of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in Arizona. Despite its location along the border with Mexico and the fact that 217 immigrant children were released there, no cases have been found in Arizona. Source: CDC.
7. Enterovirus 68 is not a common virus in Central or South America. Since 2008, outbreaks of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in the United States, Asia and northern Europe, but not Central or South America. Since the 1960s, only a handful of cases have ever been reported in the region. Source: CDC.
8. Texas has seen only scattered cases of Enterovirus 68. Despite receiving the most immigrant children, over 6,000 in fact, very few cases have been reported here. Most are in the Dallas area (10), and none have been reported in areas along the coast and border, including the Valley, San Antonio, and Houston, were large numbers of immigrant children were released to the public. Source: KENS 5, San Antonio.
9. California has only seen 32 cases of Enterovirus 68. Despite receiving over 4,000 immigrant children, only 32 cases of Enterovirus 68 have been reported in the state, out of 691 nationwide. The cases are spread throughout the state in major urban centers, not along the Mexican border. Only five cases in San Diego have been reported. Source: ABC News.
10. Unaccompanied border children have higher rates of vaccination than children in Texas. Earlier this year, as the border surge began, many claimed we would see outbreaks of diseases like Tuberculosis, brought over by border children released to their families across America. The outbreaks never materialized, because the countries the children came from (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) have all vaccines paid for by the government. For example, 93% of children from those countries are vaccinated against the measles, higher than the rate of American children vaccinated against the disease (92%). Source: Texas Observer.