Executive Intelligence Review


U.S. Infectious Diseases Surging in Public Health Decline, Include Syphilis, Typhus, and Measles

March 9, 2019 (EIRNS)—A surge in infectious diseases, directly associated with poverty, social breakdown, and lack of modern ratios of public health and medical services, are occurring more frequently in the United States, a companion to the horrible rise in U.S. death rates from drug overdose and suicide. Overall, the rate of incidence of infectious diseases of all kinds—from food-borne to respiratory—fell in the U.S. over the decades of the 20th century, but after year 2000, as “casino economics” set in ever more viciously, the rate of infectious diseases started climbing.

Sexually-transmitted diseases and drugs. Syphilis rates nationally are setting records, after the disease was once nearly eradicated. Timely use of antibiotics can successfully treat the disease, but without that, permanent damage and death are likely. The U.S. incidence of syphilis rose 73% overall for the five-year period 2013-2017. For women, the incidence jumped 156% over that period. The highest rates are in California, Nevada, and Louisiana. Public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concur that this syphilis resurgence relates to drug use, and in particular to the rise in methamphetamines. A CDC analysis of the cases over 2013-2017, shows that one-third of the syphilis sufferers had used methamphetamines within the year. Fresno County, California has the highest rate of congenital syphilis in the nation, where an estimated two-thirds of mothers afflicted with syphilis were drug-users.

Typhus. This bacterial disease carried by insect vectors (fleas, lice, chiggers), causing fever, body ache, rash, and other constitutional symptoms, was once so uncommon in the U.S. that it was delisted by the CDC in 1994. But then, after reappearing in the 1990s in California, it now is showing up again in a pattern across the southern border states, from southern California to southeast Texas, extending into the Florida Gulf Coast. Murine, or flea-borne typhus is epidemic now in Los Angeles, associated there with homeless street dwellers, surrounded by trash, human waste and rats. The recent high-profile case is Deputy City Attorney Liz Greenwood, who fell ill with typhus last month, traced to rats in L.A. City Hall. But other animals are host to the infected fleas, from opossums to cats, which are now conveying the disease to Long Beach and other outer communities.

In Texas, the number of flea-borne typhus cases rose from 30 a year, to 519 a year in the 14-year period from 2003-2017. Hidalgo County has been number one in incidence, with 99 cases over that period. Harris County, where Houston is the main city, is second, with 71 cases.

Measles. There are now several measles outbreak locations in the U.S., reflecting the vulnerability to infection, when it is introduced from outside, to a community with low vaccination rates. The CDC reported this week, that the year 2019 is set to be the worst year for measles cases in 17 years. Over January and February, more than 200 cases have been reported, with outbreaks in 11 states.

Indigenous measles was declared to have been eliminated in North America, after the last endemic case was reported in 2002. But wherever the microbe strikes in a low-vaccination community, the disease can easily take hold. The pathogen is exceptionally transmissible. It remains infectious for two hours after the human carrier exits. Many state legislatures are now tightening requirements for waivers from vaccinations, which had come to be granted loosely for “philosophical” objections to vaccination.