MN Refugee TB Infections Are Ten Times Higher Than Other States

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Photo via Breitbart - AP Photo by Jim Mone

Minneapolis, MN – The number of active TB infections in refugees living in Minnesota between 2010 and 2014 reached 296, ten times higher than any other state.

A new report by Breitbart states, “With 296 cases of active TB diagnosed among refugees over five years, Minnesota reported more cases than all fourteen other states where that data has been made available — a combined total of 172 cases.”

Breitbart also explains during the five years between 2010, and 2014, “20 percent of Minnesota’s active TB cases (161 out of 732) were diagnosed among the one percent of the state’s residents born in Somalia.”

The Minnesota Department of Health provided Breitbart News with the following statement:

“The data you are referring to, showing 50% of the 593 foreign born residents of Minnesota diagnosed with TB arrived as refugees, represents years 2010 – 2014. The majority of those refugees actually developed TB disease after being in Minnesota at least five years, and many had been in the US at least 10 years, so these are not new arrivals to the US.”

The presence of other medical conditions is the chief risk factor for the activation of TB disease in a person with latent infection (incidentally, a third of the world has latent TB infection). These conditions include diabetes, cancers, immune suppressing medications, and renal disease. These are conditions common with the American diet and lifestyle, and new risk factors for these refugee populations. Tuberculosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Often times the reason that Minnesota reports TB and other infectious diseases at higher rates than other states is because we have a stellar system of surveillance and screening. From 2010 – 2014, in addition to their overseas screening, 99% of our primary refugee arrivals completed an additional health screening within 90-days of their arrival in the US. If you look at national surveillance data in 2014, states with a lower percentage of foreign-born cases arriving as refugees often have a higher percentage of unknown or missing data.”

The Minnesota Department of Health report regarding this data can be seen here.  

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