Illegal immigrant brings drug-resistant TB case to Texas

A man from Nepal carrying a deadly strain of TB is being detained in south Texas.

A man carrying a deadly strain of tuberculosis from the other side of the world is being detained right here in south Texas.

It TMs one of U.S. health official TMs greatest fears, a man crossing into the country carrying an incurable disease, but thanks to swift action a crisis may have been averted.

In November a man from Nepal who carries a severe multi-drug resistant form of tuberculosis was detained by Border Patrol when he illegally crossed into the country near McAllen after staying in Mexico for a week.

ICE officials routinely screen patients for TB when they arrive at a detention facility, including this man whose name has yet to be released.

"When we deal with people from third world countries they may be contagious so out agents are constantly vigilant toward these things and that's why we update them and train them to recognize these diseases, Border Patrol RGV Sector spokesman Henry Mendiola Jr. said.

Tuberculosis is a fatal airborne disease. While most cases are treatable, some strains have evolved and become resistant to treatments.

"When you have a case of drug resistant TB it TMs caused by people who didn't take their full treatment course, doctors who prescribed the wrong treatments, or public health systems that were lacking so patients don't finish their treatments and that is essential for all cases of TB, Dr. Brian Smith with the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

Smith says the valley sees four times the national average of TB cases.

That's why health and immigration officials work closely together.

"You want to stop it as carefully and quickly as possible, Smith said.

Border Patrol agents who came in contact with this man have been tested and so far no one has tested positive for the strain.

"These agents have been tested and will continue to be tested, Mendiola said.

Fortunately in this case officials acted swiftly, following protocol.

"Everything was done right, fortunately this time the person was identified quickly and placed in isolation quickly so you had no community exposures, Smith said.

"It TMs important our agents are aware of who they have in custody and when they recognize any symptoms they take the necessary action to protect not just themselves but the country," Mendiola said.

While the man has been transferred to an ice detention facility about an hour outside San Antonio, it TMs unclear how long he will remain there.