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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?

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SoldAtAuction Sun 27-Jan-13 16:26:26

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.

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