Until recent months, diphtheria had not been diagnosed in Denmark for 30 years. Danish health authorities have notified hospitals and medical professionals that diphtheria may have come into the country among the thousands of refugees that entered the country in 2015. According to spokesman Kurt Fuursted of the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI), “The infection can be very dangerous if one isn’t vaccinated against it. The dangerous type is very rare and we last saw it in Denmark in 1998.”

In the United States and many other countries, innoculation against diphtheria are often given as part of a combinated vaccination that includes protection against tetanus and pertussis. Any one of these three maladies can be deadly, as is tuberculosis. The latter illness can affect the lungs or skeletal structure. Malaria has also been found among the migrants now residing in Denmark. For many years, international travelers had to show a record of their vaccinations in order to cross borders. And unlike other European countries, Denmark has not been screening refugees for illnesses.

However, the SSI spokesman said that his agency is pondering a policy change. The World Health Organization, however, has clearly advised all countries to vet migrants and asylum seekers for illnesses. International travel and the arrival of immigrants and refugees has an effect on the United States, too. For example, in 2014 the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services confirmed several cases of chikungunya – a disease that is much more prevalent in Africa and Latin America. Cases were confirmed Bexar, Dallas, Gonzales, Harris, Montgomery, Travis, and Williamson. It was theorized that travelers coming to Texas from infected areas brought the disease with them, which is then spread by mosquitoes.

In the autumn of 2015, Puerto Rican officials confirmed a case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus recently linked to serious neurological disorders. An outbreak in Brazil has caused debilitating birth defects. among newborns in Brazil. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control issued a warning to tourists traveling to Puerto Rico and other affected areas, urging them to protect themselves from the mosquitoes that spread the virus.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito thrives in tropical climates and typically lives around buildings in urban areas. It is known to bite aggressively during the day, but can also attack at night, both indoors and out. It's the same mosquito that can carry chikungunya, yellow fever, and dengue fever.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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