To think that mass immigration has introduced a lot of new diseases?

(61 Posts)
dolcelatte Sun 27-Jan-13 15:51:42

This is not an anti-immigration thread, not at all; I believe that the UK is richer and better for its tolerance, openness, and diversity.

However, has anyone noticed that there are far more varieties of 'bugs' around in recent years? Not necessarily serious but just different; for example, me, my husband and DDs have recently been laid low with a bug which involves not only high temperature, coughing etc, but also hands shaking severely, The combination of symptoms just seems to be more varied and sometimes more extreme.

Perhaps it's a sign of age, but I swear that there were far fewer types of bug around in my youth. Basically, you got a cold and it might take up to five days to shake off, but you knew what you were dealing with. Now, the almost random symptoms, eg a bug which resulted in severe headaches, can be a source of worry because it is not known and familiar.

In the past, the colonisation of various countries led to numerous deaths from 'white men's diseases', against which there was no natural immunity. We are now better equipped to treat diseases than in the past, but I do wonder if we are more exposed to a wider variety and/or different strains of bugs and diseases.

Perhaps ultimately we will just all be a lot more resistant to diseases as we develop new antibodies and immunities to these new threats?

Squitten Sun 27-Jan-13 15:53:44

Even assuming that today's bugs came from foreign climates, how do you differentiate between foreign people bringing them here and the massive increase in British people travelling abroad and bringing them home?

manicbmc Sun 27-Jan-13 15:54:09

Viruses mutate. Such is life. I don't think we can blame this on immigrants. Nor would I want to.

EntWife Sun 27-Jan-13 15:54:41

It has likely got much more to do with easily available international travel than immigration.

WorraLiberty Sun 27-Jan-13 15:55:13

Have you not though about how plane travel has increased over the years and how everyone is freely travelling/holidaying in different countries on a regular basis?

I don't think it's immigration...just easy travel.

catgirl1976 Sun 27-Jan-13 15:55:58 because we travel more.

Although immigration-hysterica-blame-itis is clearly on the up

eggsy11 Sun 27-Jan-13 15:56:06

are you writing an essay by any chance? grin I have been set something very similar!

Punkatheart Sun 27-Jan-13 15:56:11

Antibiotics. Too many. Immune systems buggered.

Not immigrants.

BegoniaBampot Sun 27-Jan-13 15:56:14

Isn't TB on the rise again? Think it has been said this is down to people coming in form countries where this is still a problem.

McNewPants2013 Sun 27-Jan-13 15:56:50

I belive it's travel rather than immigration

manicbmc Sun 27-Jan-13 15:57:14

TB is on the rise because our schools have stopped immunising.

meditrina Sun 27-Jan-13 15:57:36

Agree with worra that it's international travel that accelerates the spread (that why Spanish flu spread so rapidly in so many locations after WW1, and why swine flu was such a worry).

McNewPants2013 Sun 27-Jan-13 15:57:44

I would also say it down to some parents not immunising there children.

hatgirl Sun 27-Jan-13 15:59:08

or perhaps we/ our parents all keep/ kept our houses too clean and are so scared of 'germs' that our children don't build up the same immunity to general bugs as they grow up any more.

BegoniaBampot Sun 27-Jan-13 15:59:24

Really, don't they immunise against Tb any more?

MrsHoarder Sun 27-Jan-13 15:59:38

Viruses mutate. I remember being off school for a fortnight with a similar bug, but must colds I dragged myself in and sniffled through.

New bugs did come from foreign climates, when we went and conquered half the globe. But "foreign" bugs are now more likely to coffee from the naice 18 year olds travelling to add many large population centres as they can than you're local Polish plumber coming from a small town and struggling to afford to visit extended family.

manicbmc Sun 27-Jan-13 16:00:35

No, Begonia, they don't.

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 16:01:43

In these days of constant movement between countries, business exchanges, tourism, easy air travel etc etc, surely you don't need mass immigration to bring in what sounds like a virus?

Viruses typically have a very short life span so would need to be passed from person to person rather quickly to survive. So from that pov it makes no difference if the infected person is moving to settle in the country or just popping over for a conference. Aeroplanes are notorius for their high level of infectious viruses/bacteria.

The people I know who have contracted "foreign" diseases (including a couple that got TB) have all done so on holiday or work trips. And then, of course, brought them back to the UK. And in some cases, no doubt, spread them around the aircraft en route.

Another reason why new bugs are around is that the short life of viruses makes them mutate quickly-- so new species appear in a short time. This has always been the case: diseases change.

JustplainoldBuggerlugs Sun 27-Jan-13 16:02:03

And the resistance being built to antibiotics.

Naf all to do with immigration.

I'd dig out your hard hat if i was you OP.

Narked Sun 27-Jan-13 16:08:31

Travel. Not immigration. Even the Daily Fail isn't blaming it for that.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sun 27-Jan-13 16:14:12

Apparently since smoking was banned on planes you are more likely to pick up a bug because the air is circulated more than it used to be. If on person has a bug on a plane then they could easily pass it on to 10 people who are all getting onto 10 different connecting flights and will spread it about on those planes.

carabos Sun 27-Jan-13 16:14:57

OP you seem to seem to view immigration as if was the annual migration of stampeding buffalo - it may come as a surprise to you to learn that the relatively small numbers of people who trickle into the country are healthy and generally not harbouring Ebola peculiar viruses which then sweep through the indigenous population.

As others have said, air travel is far more likely to be the source of these strange new diseases that you imagine think you have contracted. hmm

When I emigrated I was tested for a wide range of diseases, including TB, HIV and syphilis. I told themI was not an 18th Century pirate to no avail. Most immigrants are probably healthier than you.

bakingaddict Sun 27-Jan-13 16:19:39

All newborns are offered TB immunisation at 8 weeks of age. There are no reports too suggest levels of TB immunisation are or have fallen like MMR, so I assume people are immunising their babies against TB. TB is on the rise in recent years partly due to the spread of HIV and antibiotic resistance more so than lack of immunisation. Probably why it is now offered to newborns to get greater coverage instead of at secondary school when I was immunised in the 80's

You cannot restrict the movement of people easily these days so every country is suspectible to foreign viruses being brought to it's shores. There are hundred's and hundred's of viruses that comprise the 'common cold' but remember with colds and flu it isn't the virus as such responsible for your symptoms but your own immune system that's the cause. Histamine released giving you a blocked nose, fever by raising your body temp above 38.5C as a defence against the virus etc

MrsFionaCharming Sun 27-Jan-13 16:19:45

haha Eggsy, I have that essay too!

manicbmc Sun 27-Jan-13 16:21:58

My kids (now adults) were not offered or given the TB vaccination when they were babies. It had been stopped for teens by the time they were in secondary and so they haven't had the immunisation.

nailak Sun 27-Jan-13 16:22:17

what like small pox? bubonic plague?

Smudging Sun 27-Jan-13 16:25:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bbc just had this link it explains it quite clearly

Itsaboatjack Sun 27-Jan-13 16:27:42

My dc (8&3) were immunised as babies against TB, I was told at the time it was because of the increase in cases of TB in cities due to immigration.

I can't back that up, it's what I was told though.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sun 27-Jan-13 16:30:55

TB vaccination is targeted. It's not offered to everyone like it used to be.

VestaCurry Sun 27-Jan-13 16:31:00

Same here itsaboutjack, and I was given the same reason for its use in our area of west London

Narked Sun 27-Jan-13 16:37:36

'I told themI was not an 18th Century pirate to no avail'

grin I think you Arrrrrrrrrrrrrre.

lljkk Sun 27-Jan-13 16:38:48

globalisation is spreading illnesses faster than they used to. Not a surprise.

specialsubject Sun 27-Jan-13 16:38:56

suggested reasons:

- lots more international travel (e.g. runway malaria)
- over use of antibiotics
- cities getting busier and more crowded, ditto public transport
- indoor lifestyles; thinking that a trip to a shopping mall is an 'outing', not going out in cold or wet weather etc, too much time in the office (presenteeism), stupid long commutes
- (Whisper) reduced vaccination uptake

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 16:41:18

What happened was that for a short space in the ?90s authorities thought it would be possible to stop immunising for TB because the whole population above a certain age would have been immunised and there would consequently have been nowhere for the infection to take hold for several decades- so it could be considered extinct in Britain, a bit like the the smallpox virus globally. Or rabies in Britain.

What they did not of course take into account was the ease of travel and the likelihood that tourists, business men and others would be exposed to TB abroad.

The only reason it worked for smallpox was that the immunisation policy was global. The only reason it works for rabies is that you can physically stop animals from entering the country. Our economy does not allow the same quarantine policy for people. (Sorry, Prime Minister/Your Majesty/sales director of the company, you have been Abroad, so you will now have to spend the next 4 months in our quarantine facility).

dolcelatte Sun 27-Jan-13 17:13:51

Some very interesting responses, thanks. I agree that it must stem in part, at least, from people bringing back bugs/diseases from holiday, and the ease of foreign travel.

What's the nastiest/scariest bug you have had?

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 17:19:18

Never had anything particularly nasty. But a colleague of dh went on a work/union related trip to Russia and came back with TB; took her years to recover a modicum of health. A university friend of his contracted hepatitis in India.

I always get nasty colds (which I then pass on to my extended family) when I go to visit my relatives in Sweden: they blame it on the unhealthy British, but I reckon it's the germs in the aircraft.

I agree it seems to be air travel.

They don't routinely vaccinate against TB in the U.S.

therugratref Sun 27-Jan-13 17:37:42

I have had Malaria and typhoid, neither were pleasant, both in Africa. I had a typhoid vaccination and was taking antimalarial tablets.
I know Australia had eradicated TB in the population and thus stopped the national vaccination program in the 70's. The arrival of large numbers of people from Vietnam and Cambodia post Vietnam war meant that hospitals started to see active TB again. I had to be vaccinated when I started nursing in the 80's but saw very few cases.
It is still very low in Australia and it has had vast numbers of migrants over the years. Only high risk groups are vaccinated.
I think global travel is much more to blame than immigration

GrendelsMum Sun 27-Jan-13 17:45:46

An amusing story (amusing in retrospect - not at all amusing at the time). A friend of mine went to India and became very ill shortly after he returned. Whisked into top hospital, great concern from doctors, tests for all manner of strange and exotic diseases, parents told to fly in from their home abroad... Turned out he had mumps and had almost certainly picked it up in the UK.

But from what I remember, I believe the current general medical understanding is that yes, the massive increase in international travel and the speed of it is what's responsible for spreading diseases around the globe.

turkeyboots Sun 27-Jan-13 17:47:53

No TB vaccine offered to my DC, 6 and 3. The neighbouring boroughs do it, but ours only did if you were in a high risky group.

The more bugs that meet each other, can lead to new exciting varients. I sat through a lecture on the variations of norovirus recently but none of it stuck in my head except that the new variations are called "escape mutants"!

MrsFionaCharming Sun 27-Jan-13 17:53:15

The current TB vaccination is highly ineffective anyway. Only around 50% of people who receive it become immune. Comapred to in the 90s for most widely used vaccines. It's not economically worthwhile offering such an ineffective vaccine to large numbers of people who are unlikely to contract the illness anyway.

Mumsyblouse Sun 27-Jan-13 17:57:27

Not reasonable at all, unless you can point to a time in which our island and other countries were hermetically sealed from one another. The Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 killed 50-100 million people. It spread like wildfire round the entire globe. As long as you have food being freighted around the world, people going on holiday, people travelling to see relatives and so on, a very nasty virus will spread quickly (and won't wait for a wave of immigrants to arrive say in a year's time).

Diseases which are 'slow-growers' like TB may be more likely to be prevalent due to immigration as immigrants from high risk countries may not know they've got it, and putting it in the general population in greater quantities eventually means a few more people get it, but equally people travelling abroad also increases the numbers as well.

Travelling by airplane definitely increases your chances of getting sick as the bugs are circulated in such an effective way.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Sun 27-Jan-13 18:07:07

Immigrants only immigrate (if that's a word) once in their lifetime, so are very unlikely to be a significant cause of temporary bugs like the ones you are talking about - the number of people leaving planes at Heathrow who are coming here to live permanently are dwarfed by the numbers visiting for work or pleasure, or UK residents returning from trips overseas.

When it comes to long-term illnesses like TB or HIV then immigration does make a noticeable difference.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 27-Jan-13 18:45:10

I think some old diseases have had a bit of a come back because many people are coming from countries where there simply isn't the kind of vaccination programmes the UK has. TB for example,has become more common again.

Diseases mutate though and stopping people moving to Britain wouldn't eradicate disease.

ratspeaker Mon 28-Jan-13 09:48:10

Like manicbmc my younger two were not vaccinated as babies nor vaccinated at school. The Heaf test and BCG in secondary school is a thing of the past.
The trouble with something like TB is that it needs long term antibiotic treatment, conventional treatment also involves changing the antibiotics to kill off resistant organisms. In countries without national health or treatment programmes this means they rely on the patient being able to afford the meds.
The rise in TB in the USA due to funding cuts in public health has been documented.

allgoingtoshitnow Mon 28-Jan-13 10:30:20

Many diseases we thought were wiped out locally through immunization have returned to these shores, and in general the sufferers are immigrants coming from third world countries with very poor immunization programs. What better country to come to if you are ill than one with free healthcare?

But the prevalence of colds/bugs - well they spread rapidly, are over quickly, and are helped along by foreign travel as others have said.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 10:33:28

its the airborne cancer-aids i tell ya

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 11:07:06

Though TB is a long lasting disease, it doesn't long to actually spread it: all that is needed is somebody coughing in a bus. Know of several cases of TB contracted during short visits abroad.

RuleBritannia Mon 28-Jan-13 11:15:51

It's not just our travelling outside the UK, it's people from outside the UK bringing in their countries' endemic diseases like tuberculosis and rickets.

They should all be tested for such conditions before being allowed in. Okay, it will cause delays for them but it will do good in the end. If they have these diseases, why shjould the NHS we pay for them to be cured?

Muminwestlondon Mon 28-Jan-13 11:21:18

Rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency, it is not an infectious disease. My uncle had it in the Netherlands in the 1930s. The reason it is seen in some immigrant populations is our lack of sunlight and refined food.

HotOffTheTropics Mon 28-Jan-13 11:25:00

Er...immigrants have to prove they're TB free incidentally - I had to go through tests and carry certificates that had to be presented at immigration upon arrival. So it's probably your lot.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 28-Jan-13 13:03:08

TB is pretty hard to catch. You need prolonged close contact.

degutastic Mon 28-Jan-13 13:59:42

The BCG only increases protection against pulmonary TB to around 50%, depending on environmental background and location - it's not cost effective to blanket immunise the entire population.

The rise in incidence is due partly to the rise in HIV/AIDS and partly due to immigration - the incidence of TB is much higher in inner cities within immigrant populations from countries where TB is common. Patient non-compliance to the prolonged antibiotic courses needed to treat TB mean that there are various multi-drug resistant strains around too. It's worth keeping in mind though that while a third of the world's population are infected with TB, only 1 in 10 of those go on to develop the actual disease.

I don't really think that's what the OP is getting at though grin

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:16

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 28-Jan-13 13:03:08
"TB is pretty hard to catch. You need prolonged close contact."

Dh's colleague managed to catch it during a brief visit to the (then) USSR. I know others who have caught it under similar circumstances. So yes, coughing on a bus was possibly exaggerated, but you don't have to live in the country for years either.

Harriet35 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:26

Plague will probably come back soon if mass immigration is not curtailed. sad The people in charge just don't care though. They hate the British people and prefer exotic foreigners that will work harder for less money.

MrsSnow Mon 28-Jan-13 14:15:00

Seriously? You want to blame all immigrants for random winter bugs that appear?

How about we ban all air travel instead? How about we ban anyone ever going on holiday? How about no more imported food? How about we all stay indoors at home and never go outside, ever!

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:16:30

RuleBritannia Mon 28-Jan-13 11:15:51
"It's not just our travelling outside the UK, it's people from outside the UK bringing in their countries' endemic diseases like tuberculosis and rickets.

They should all be tested for such conditions before being allowed in. Okay, it will cause delays for them but it will do good in the end. If they have these diseases, why shjould the NHS we pay for them to be cured? "

You can get immigrants in this way but our economy would collapse if we were to insist that every businessman/politican/academic going on conferences/returning tourist had to be detained and tested.

ratspeaker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:35:05

harriet35 where in the name of the wee green man do you get your information from!!!
What basis do you have for immigration causing plague?

ffs google the plague -its easy
For most people the plague is associated with the "black death" that swept through Europe so it's already here
Then you will find out it's a zoonotic disease, that means it comes from animals mostly from their fleas.
Then you will find Yersinia pestis aka Bubonic Plague is treatable by antibiotics

weegiemum Mon 28-Jan-13 14:43:47

I've had typhoid despite vax.

But nothing compares to the cheery bug I caught from the woman I sat in front of for 9 hours on the way home from Venezuela. I ended up first with upper chest infection, then double pneumonia, then right-lung dry pleurisy. I missed a MN Christmas meet cos of the pleurisy!! That woman coughed her lungs out for 9 hours. I had throat swabs and a bronchoscopy - all viral - just South American viral, whereas I'm puny Scottish!!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now