Sunday , January 17 2021

Tuberculosis, influenza and unhealthiness hit migrants on their way to the US



The path from tropical Central America, from the jungle to the gigantic capital of Mexico and then to the desert that leads to the United States, reduces the health of the migrant caravan full of people who suffer extreme climate change, overcrowding and physical exhaustion.

At dawn on Sunday, the approximately 5,000 Central Americans, mostly Hondurans, marched again stoically to their American dream, pushing carts with children still sleeping and dragging heavy blankets with which they faced a cold night in the outer corridors of the Stadium. Corregidora of the central state of Querétaro.

But as soon as they reached the point where the road to neighboring Guanajuato begins, the first signs of weariness appeared among the most fragile members of this swarm of people.

A teenager disappeared by the side of the road.

"It takes days with a fever," one of the young men who accompanied him said, before charging him loaded.

A few meters ahead, a 4-year-old Honduran girl collapsed on the floor, convulsing as she lined up in an everlasting queue to board a cargo trailer with her mother, Mirna Carolina Ayala.

"I do not know what you have, you did not want to eat in days … if something happens I'm dying," the woman said through sobs to AFP as paramedics administered oxygen to the girl.

The small Madaleli "brings fever and glucose is high, must be evaluated by a pediatric team for a possible pre-diabetes. It is dehydrated, did not eat well," said Luis Manuel Martinez, emergency coordinator of the emergency system of the local Health Secretary .

When she regained consciousness, the girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital. His screams of pain discouraged much of the caravan.

Winter is coming

In general, the caravan enters a "deteriorated state".

"They come from a hot climate and here the temperature is getting lower, more wear and tear, people are not accustomed to those days of walking, poor food and sleep," explains Martinez.

For the doctor, the most pressing risks are respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

"We detected outbreaks of influenza and tuberculosis infection," said a Red Cross doctor who asked for anonymity and spent the night in the shelter.

At dawn, a symphony of sneezing, moaning and sighing resounded in the overcrowded camp of the stadium, hit by strong chains of icy air.

"Most of us have been affected by the cough, the flu, because of the exaggerated weather, very cold, I can not take it any more," said Jose Castellano, a 20-year-old Honduran who left the country medical post with his hands full of medicines .

The spread of viruses and bacteria is common.

"If you do not get your boat with water, you have to get it out of your partner," explains the young man quivering under the two pants and double jacket you saw.

Castellano understands that with each passing day is closer to the winter, which reaches below-zero temperatures near the northern border.

"You have to be prepared not to kill us with hypothermia," he said.

Trash and some bathrooms

Tuberculosis affects the lungs, causing cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss, according to the World Health Organization.

Although it is curable if treated promptly, it is transmitted by coughing, sneezing or spitting like the flu.

These diseases can degenerate into epidemics, cause pneumonia or death.

Migrants sleep in the open air, forming a giant carpet or a multicolored mosaic. Along with them, there are always moving toilets that sometimes overflow, plus the mountain of dirt and debris they are generating.

The stadium lent only ten toilets, "five for men and five for women … and we are a crowd," lamented Julio Díaz, a Honduran electrician who must cure his baby for an eye infection.

"The problem is that some of us who are going here are clean, but others are very dirty, they have no education, Pigs!" He said, holding a plastic bag of medicine.

Through the labyrinthine corridors of the encampment there are cries of headaches, bones, feet, shoulders, molars, stomach, chest. There are also soul pains.

"What hurts me is my heart, I miss everything I love in my country," says Araceli López, a single mother who hugs her daughter with a special comb.

"Children always hug and play, so they are full of lice," she explains, while crushing one of the parasites between her nails.

by Yemeli ORTEGA

AFP


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