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More Than 2,000 Migrants In ICE Detention Centers Quarantined For Disease Outbreaks

ICE detention centers throughout the country have quarantined migrants after outbreaks of mumps, influenza and chicken pox.

Sanjana Karanth, Huffington Post, Mar 12, 2019

More than 2,000 people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are in quarantine after an outbreak of contagious diseases, including mumps.

"As of March 7, 2019, there was a total of 2,287 detainees cohorted for exposure to a detainee with a contagious condition," ICE spokesman Brendan Raedy told CNN.

Raedy said ICE investigators found 236 reported mumps cases, with 16 more suspected cases in 51 detention centers in the last 12 months. The centers had no reports of mumps from January 2016 through February 2018, according to CNN.

ICE did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment on the mumps outbreak.

Mumps is a contagious disease normally spread through saliva. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms include fever, muscle aches and swollen salivary glands that result in puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. It can often take weeks before symptoms become noticeable in people who have mumps.

Outbreaks usually occur when groups of people have been in prolonged close contact with a person who has mumps, such as the migrants in detention.

The growing number of people in immigration detention under President Donald Trump's administration has stirred concern over disease outbreaks. More than 50,000 migrants are in ICE custody, according to agency data.

Reuters originally reported the quarantine, saying a detention facility in rural Louisiana quarantined hundreds of people in January. Health investigations last year revealed that 423 migrants in detention had influenza and 461 had chicken pox, according to the report. Mumps, influenza and chickenpox are largely preventable with vaccinations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said at a news conference last week that border officials became overwhelmed with health concerns as more immigrants from Central America came into the country "with illnesses and medical conditions." But the CDC said vaccination rates in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where many of the migrants are from, are over 90 percent.

The Denver Post reported that detainees at a Colorado detention center have gone on a hunger strike to bring attention to the spread of infectious diseases, which has caused multiple quarantines at the center.

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