More than 5,000 adult immigrants have been quarantined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after exposure to mumps or chicken pox.
It’s a big jump from even just a few months ago and represents cases at 39 immigrant detention centers across the country, ICE told CNN. There were only 2,287 detainees quarantined for exposure to contagious conditions as of March 7.
Those in quarantine include 4,200 who have been exposed to mumps, 800 who were exposed to chicken pox and 100 who have been exposed to both. Migrants quarantined for mumps don’t necessarily have the viral infection, but have been exposed to it at the least, CNN reports. About 300 people in ICE custody tested positive for mumps with a blood test between September of last year until June 13.
September was the first time that ICE recorded mumps cases. “I think there is heightened interest in this situation because it’s the mumps, which is a new occurrence in custody, but preventing the spread of communicable disease in ICE custody is something we have demonstrated success doing,” Nathalie Asher, ICE executive associate director for enforcement and removal operations, told CNN.
Previously, the agency has handled cases of measles, the flu and chicken pox.
“From an operational perspective, the impact is significant in the short and long term and will result in an increase in cohorted detainees’ length of stay in detention, an inability to effect removal of eligible cohorted detainees, and postponing scheduled consular interviews for quarantined detainees,” Asher added.
Mumps, which is spread by coughing, sneezing or talking among other things, includes symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite followed by swelling of salivary glands. It’s best prevented by the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
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