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Medicine Science

Developing World's Parasites, Diseases Enter US 337

reporter alerts us to a story up at the Wall Street Journal on the increasing prevalance in the US of formerly rare, 3rd-world diseases such as toxocariasis, chagas, and cysticercosis. Health-care legislation pending in the House calls for a full report to Congress about the threat from this cluster of diseases, termed "neglected infections of poverty." "Parasitic infections and other diseases usually associated with the developing world are cropping up with alarming frequency among US poor, especially in states along the US-Mexico border, the rural South, and in Appalachia, according to researchers. Government and private researchers are just beginning to assess the toll of the infections, which are a significant cause of heart disease, seizures and congenital birth defects among black and Hispanic populations. ... 'These are diseases that we know are ten-fold more important than swine flu,' said [one] leading researcher in this field. 'They're on no one's radar.' ... These diseases share a common thread. 'People who live in the suburbs are at very low risk,' Dr. Hotez said. But for the 37 million people in the US who live below the poverty line, he said, 'There is real suffering.'" Update: 08/23 16:55 GMT by KD : The submitter pointed out that the usual "Related" link to the original submission was missing on this story. We are testing a new version of the story editor and this was probably caused by a bug; reported. Here's the original.
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Developing World's Parasites, Diseases Enter US

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  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:27PM (#29159311)

    People are surprised by this? Our inner cities are rotting. Our economy is in shambles. People are living squallor and poverty on an unprecidented scale in this country. We're a breeding ground now for all manners of disease, both social and medical.

  • Close the borders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:30PM (#29159355)

    Every time I turn around the US government is finding new and innovative ideas in fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment. Scratch that. The US government is using the same old tried and true methods of fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment. They steal jobs. They bring crime. They bring disease. It's the same old song and dance.

    In a world of modern transportation, it is essentially impossible to screen every person who crosses into our country for diseases. The solution isn't more border patrols on the Tex-Mex border, it's better healthcare for those who can't afford it. If the at-risk groups are the border towns and poverty-stricken, it makes sense to help them rather than try to cut off the flow of immigrants.

    I used to fly internationally all the time, but with the growing anti-immigrant policies of the US, I find myself having a worse and worse time traveling even though I am a US citizen. The TSA and Immigration Control have made flying a mode of travel that is completely unattractive.

  • Natural Selection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:34PM (#29159397)

    You want globalization? Well here it comes. You don't want globalization? Well here it comes anyways. Attention citizens of the cosmos: be prepared for a brutal culling of the herd. Nothing personal, it's just the mechanics of the universe.

  • by TheGreenNuke ( 1612943 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:41PM (#29159445)

    The solution isn't more border patrols on the Tex-Mex border, it's better healthcare for those who can't afford it.

    But if they still can't afford what difference will it make if it's better? While I understand what you mean, your actual words help point out the true underlying cause, the cost of healthcare has risen out of control.

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:45PM (#29159479)
    Well, half the voters don't even believe in public health. If the carriers of an epidemic are deemed unworthy of health care, the free market solution is to wait until everybody gets it, then treat those with money. Ultimately that costs vastly more than stamping it out in the first place, but at least nobody gets healthcare they didn't deserve, and isn't that the most important thing?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:49PM (#29159517)
    I'm a "conservative", but you know, I've never like the "conservative" position on immigration. Immigrants are people - and typically pretty motivated, hard-working people with dignity and rights like everyone else. Who are we to say "you're not allowed in my country"? A bunch of racists?

    Perhaps if we didn't spend half as much effort stigmatizing them or threatening to deport them, they'd be better-positioned to seek treatment.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:52PM (#29159545) Homepage Journal

    If it was easier to enter the country legally fewer people would do it illegally. Then it might be easier to apply health checks on the way in.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:00PM (#29159597)

    "People are living squallor and poverty on an unprecedented scale in this country."

    Bullshit. We are not near the poverty levels of the Great Depression, and the impact of poverty is greatly mitigated nowadays.

    Our bitter refusal to control our borders ensures the human carriers of "Third World" diseases are free to circulate.

  • Thank God for HMOs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:04PM (#29159633)

    Well, at least there are no government bureaucrats standing between the sick people and the doctors who could detect and treat these diseases.

    USA, USA, USA!

    Or something ... it is quite disappointing to see the world's richest country with what is at times the best health care in the world unable to keep simple infections and parasites from affecting a large portion of its population.

  • by cenc ( 1310167 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:05PM (#29159637) Homepage

    I am sorry. Invasive species and diseases have been entering the U.S. since the first pilgrims got off the boat with their pock infested blankets. The U.S. has always turned a blind eye to the poor dying of them, until they spread to the middle class and rich. Now congress thinks this is an emergency?

    I think author of this article needs to spend sometime getting to know their American history book. The only thing that has changed is there is now more poor. How about treating that disease?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:09PM (#29159671)

    Lack of government healthcare != able to get help. It simply means that things are more expensive for those without healthcare in the short term if they need it.

    No money = unable to get help if no government healthcare.

    It's really that simple.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:22PM (#29159761)

    Bullshit. We are not near the poverty levels of the Great Depression, and the impact of poverty is greatly mitigated nowadays.

    History disagrees with your assessment; We're circling the drain. Sequence of events [] in the Great Depression:

    1. Debt liquidation and distress selling
    2. Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off
    3. A fall in the level of asset prices
    4. A still greater fall in the net worths of business, precipitating bankruptcies
    5. A fall in profits
    6. A reduction in output, in trade and in employment.
    7. Pessimism and loss of confidence
    8. Hoarding of money
    9. A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.

    Let's compare that with now --

    1. Debt liquidation and distress selling
    July 2007: loss of confidence by investors in the value of securitized mortgages causes liquidity crisis. (Housing Bubble goes pop)

    2. Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off
    In January 2008, a tax rebate is introduced as part of a "stimulus package" intended to stimulate consumer spending. But several months later, all economic indicators say that the average consumer used the majority of their tax rebate to pay off debt.

    3. A fall in the level of asset prices
    Housing bubble has now popped. In September 2008, stock markets around the world crash. The subprime mortgage market drags several banks to their death and liquid assets all but disappear from the market. Retail outlets start to go out of business, even with deep cuts in pricing.

    4. A still greater fall in the net worths of business, precipitating bankruptcies
    Early in 2009, a series of goverment-funded bailouts are issued to financial and automotive firms. Many businesses close up.

    5. A fall in profits
    Pretty sure we've passed this point.

    6. A reduction in output, in trade and in employment.
    National unemployment currently hovers at 9.7%, the highest ever recorded.

    7. Pessimism and loss of confidence

    8. Hoarding of money
    9. A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.

    This is the last step in the fall of our economy, and so far the interest rate hasn't deflated -- but everything else on this timeline has been met.

  • by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:26PM (#29159777) Homepage

    Lack of government healthcare != able to get help.

    Right. We all remember Bush's answer to the healthcare crisis: let them go to the emergency room. ER care is significantly more expensive than proper preventive and general practice care.

    It simply means that things are more expensive for those without healthcare in the short term if they need it.

    Right. 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems and 78% of those filers had insurance. Citation [] That doesn't just make things more expensive for those with healthcare, it makes them more expensive for policy holders, anyone who wants a loan, small businesses, investors, and stockholders. And it's not just over the short term, it has an overall detrimental effect on our nation's economic well being which continues to mount.

    In general there are a lot of "reactionary" people here in the US who will go to the doctor for -anything-, heck, wasn't it just a few years ago where because of the prevalence of people geoing to the doctors for every little thing was going to create more drug resista lnt illnesses?

    it's not people going to the doctors that causes drug resistance, it's the repeated treatment of the same bacterial infections with a broad spectrum of antibiotics. This has a lot to do with tort liability, a subject I'm not as well versed on as I would like to be. I do think that tort reform should be a part of any comprehensive medical reform, but I think that we have to be careful.

    In general, if it makes someone sick with obvious symptoms, they are going to get help here in the US. Its just the common reaction, not sure about in other countries (the US is the only country I've lived in for an extended period of time, though I have traveled to many different countries) but in the USA, a lot of people go to the doctor or even the emergency room for every thing.

    "in general" is a stretch in this case. Lots of conditions can't be taken care of in an emergent care setting. This may be true for broken limbs, allergic reactions, and like conditions, but it doesn't address the situation with regard to chronic conditions, diabetes, cancer, and so on. This is the situation that most urgently needs to be addressed. If there was a law like the 1986 "patient dumping" law that applied to chronic care as well as ERs it would cost the medical industry billions. as is they are only required to "stabilize." and then they can ask for your insurance card and or show you the door.

  • by Macrat ( 638047 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:32PM (#29159839)

    Fuck the immigrants. This is MY country, not theirs. Let them fix their own failed states south of the border.

    Especially when they aren't "immigrants"

  • by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:35PM (#29159873)
    Unfortunately the "We'll fix it" attitude leads to invading other countries (Iraq). Further, you can't have a welfare state AND have uncontrolled immigration. So, you have a choice. Have a small government, no government services other than defense and lots of immigrants (that describes the U.S. pretty well for the first hundred or so years). Or, you can have roads, social security, medicare, welfare, public schools, etc. but little or no immigration.

    Can we help people in other countries? Sure. Federal money (< 1% of our budget) does go to works in other countries. However, if they decide to come here illegally, the most we can provide them with is helpful transportation at gunpoint back to their own country.
  • Who cares? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:41PM (#29159907)

    Do you really think the few hundred politicians who's election to the office is financed by the richest 5% really care about loosing the poorest bottom of the society?
    Do you really think that the wealthiest think that the poor bastards even deserve to live?
    War, hurricanes, new diseases hitting that segment of the overpopulated, under employed masses are really seen by them a godsend to quietly get rid of them by "natural ways".
    Do you really think, the USA, the home of the wealthiest upper crust will ever create universal health care?
    What good would do that for the top 5%?

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:00PM (#29160011)

    here is your biggest problem - doomers like yourself who are still claiming the sky is falling when their are CLEARLY signs of recovery worldwide.

    I'm not all doom and gloom... Forty years ago we had a middle class. We don't anymore. We have rich people, and we have poor people... Just like the countries we've been shipping our jobs out to. One of the things that made America what it was is a strong middle class. That's vaporized now under the heat of globalization, and this is something that's come about because of the current economic crisis. Yeah, the economy as a whole may recover, but our quality of life will never be the same. For many people -- there will be no recovery.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:11PM (#29160063)

    They are also diseases that are common among immigrants, and that follow them in.

    They may be old arguments, but that doesn't detract from their indisputable accuracy.

    Particularly with these diseases which were previously unique to areas that immigrants come from. It is eminently clear where the disease is being sourced from.

    The diseases are not ones that can be effectively treated by healthcare, there is no cure/effective treatment known to most of these diseases, the prognosis is not good, if you should catch one, your life will almost certainly be cut short, even if you have the best health care money can buy, the parasites cause permanent scars.

    In most cases, the better good of society would be better achieved by quarantining people found to have these diseases.

    Providing health care services to everyone who can't afford them does not fix these diseases. Ultimately research would be required into a cure -- the free market and large profits that can be made, are ultimately, the incentives for this research to get conducted.

    However, it indeed would be beneficial to the public for screening for these diseases to be mandatory and required for employment and travel within the US.

    At least it would encourage people who unknowingly have the disease to get checked, and attempt whatever (unfortunately damaging) treatments are available, to help get a handle on the epidemic.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:18PM (#29160087) Homepage Journal

    I think the collapse of the US middle class is in large part the fault of the middle class itself. In a world of increasing sophistication, most people ignored it and didn't adapt to it, and they didn't instill into their children the importance of education. The idea that one can live very comfortably simply being unskilled labor was a foolish one that idea only worked for a generation or two. The economic hegemony of the US post WWII helped feed that idea, but part of that hegemony was sustained by malicious policies against other countries.

    Maybe globalization made that middle class collapse happen faster, but an unsustainable situation like that wasn't going to stay that way forever. Closing borders to trade usually hasn't worked out well either, all that does is incite reciprocal action.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:24PM (#29160117)

    In a world of modern transportation, it is essentially impossible to screen every person who crosses into our country for diseases.

    Sure, it's possible, but requires further inconveniencing people who wish to cross, and reducing the throughput (the rate at which people are legally allowed to cross borders). And might have a negative impact on tourists, if it took them several days waiting in line to get screened and admitted.

    It is also more expensive (the most likely reason it's not actually done) and requires more paperwork to keep track of screening results and prove who's been properly screened to allow them to pass security.

    With regards to US immigrants who are likely to have this disease "Modern" transportation means the automobile, which has been around since oh 1900, probably using a 15-year-old old clunker they loaned out at a junkyard for a few hundred $100.

    There have not been any significant transportation enhancements in recent decades that justify lax border controls, or letting people in with proper health screening.

    Instead it is the number and frequency of people wishing to cross borders.

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:27PM (#29160141)

    I do think that tort reform should be a part of any comprehensive medical reform, but I think that we have to be careful.

    Which will never happen as long as the Democrats are in power. The attorneys, through their firms and state bar associations, are collectively among the largest donors to the Democratic National Committee, Democrat elected officials (i.e. Congressmen and Senators) and Democratic presidential candidates (like our current President Obama). There are two groups that you can bet the farm that Democrats won't cross: lawyers and unions (in that order). No attorney that I know of has ever supported laws which limit their ability to go to court and sue for lots of money (its like freedom of speech to them). The attorneys will fight tort reform tooth and nail and I would be shocked if Obama signs any bill, or at least any bill that actually has teeth, which puts a national cap on damages awarded at lawyerpoint.

  • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:34PM (#29160181) Journal

    If preventive medicine is more expensive than the failed system you currently have in place, then why is more spent per capita on healthcare in the US than any other western country, while your system continues to be ranked as one of the worst in the world, falling far behind those who do engage in preventive medicine.

    Living embodiment of less for more.

    There is an old adage. "An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure."

    Your observations of how public healthcare works are deeply, and I do mean DEEPLY flawed.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:46PM (#29160241) Homepage Journal

    Attention social evolutionists: poor people in the U.S. have guns and little to lose. When they have nothing to lose, the bullets will fly.

  • by jasno ( 124830 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:55PM (#29160287) Journal

    Well, for starters I'd imagine we pay more because we CAN pay more. We pay more, and this creates big companies that develop drugs that get sold for less to the rest of the world - at least it sure feels like it. I'd be happy to see someone contradict that.

    We also pay more because many of our diseases are products of our lavish lifestyle - a lifestyle other countries are just now adopting. I'd expect healthcare costs to skyrocket worldwide as diabetes, heart disease and cancer climb to US rates.

    Also, does anyone know what the long-term prospects are for the typical European medical system? Aren't they expecting to have solvency issues similar to medicare?

    You know, above all else, one thing that seems to be lost in the noise is that we already have a government health care system. If we can't fix medicare/medicaid we don't have a chance of building a sustainable, effective general health plan. I voted for and support Obama, but his decisions on health care have left me baffled. He could have started small and been successful but he bit off more than he could chew. It hurt his reputation and it's hurting our nation.

  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:51PM (#29160563)
    We don't have a middle class anymore? What the hell are you smoking and where can I get some?
  • by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:11PM (#29160673) Journal

    The infantile death rate in the US is one of the highest in developed countries.

    A significant portion of your population is affected by diseases that are mostly present in third-world countries and can be handled easily with proper health care and social measures.

    And some of you still think universal health care is a bad idea?

  • by PachmanP ( 881352 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:13PM (#29160689)

    "If you want to make health care more affordable to have to do things to reduce the cost directly." The only way of doing that is cutting corners and reducing standards for medicine and medical equipment. That's a bad idea no matter how you put it.

    Or fix stuff like my insurance company "negotiating" $900 worth of blood tests down to the $90 they actually pay the lab. If it's $90 worth of blood tests (which it is since the lab somehow stays in business), then say it's $90. That would open a whole world of people being able to get catastrophic coverage and pay out of pocket for the basics which would put people in touch with what it actually costs and provide price pressure.

    As the system stands, the buyer has hardly any idea of what the seller is actually being paid. Nobody has any inclination of what the actual cost is. The insurance companies can throw their weight around and get reasonable prices, but the poor schmuck that doesn't have insurance pays MSPR. If I could pay the same "bulk rates" as the insurances companies, my medical costs, excluding anything catastrophic, would be less than what I pay for insurance.

    People like to make a big deal out of free market medicine failing, but we don't have free market medicine because the actual cost has been abstracted away from so many of the consumers that there's no cost control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:13PM (#29160695)

    because its the governments job to force everyone else to pay for you?

    healthcare is not a right. its a good, a service, a professional trade practiced by trademan who deserves to get paid for what he does. and it's not my job to pay for your use of his skills.

  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:19PM (#29160731) Journal

    If your neighbor's house is on fire, would you let your house burn down too be cause you don't want to pay for a fire department?

    Health care, much like fire protection, curbs the spread of disease.

    Seriously, healthcare is no different than having a standing army. It is for the national defense.

  • by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:02AM (#29160957) Homepage

    He could have started small and been successful but he bit off more than he could chew.

    He repeatedly said throughout the campaign that one of his major 1st year issues was going to be health care reform, and outlined most of what has transpired here. If you voted for him because you listened to him during the election, you should have known this was coming.

    I also fundamentally disagree that he should have "started small" because it's not like we have a lot of time to dick around with this. The last time major healthcare reform happened in the US was over 40 years ago. The time to make big changes is now, and no matter if he had gone big or small, the other side of the aisle was going to make it ugly for him.

  • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:07AM (#29160981)

    healthcare is not a right

    That is where most of the rest of the (developed) world disagrees with you. Almost all medical problems happen by chance, to some unlucky person whose dice comes up the wrong way. Why should someone be forced into bankruptcy, or left die of some treatable disease, for something they have no control over? Let me put it another way: suppose that tomorrow you are diagnosed with some rare but treatable form of cancer. Unfortunately the treatment costs one million dollars, and your medical insurance (if you have any) refuses to pay. The cancer is rare enough that, spread across the whole population, the cost of treating all cases per year is rather small. Do you think you should be given the treatment? If so, who should pay?

    It is a common argument, "I'm not going to get sick, why should I have to pay for everone else's healthcare?". It works just fine, right up until the moment where you do get sick.

  • by Cstryon ( 793006 ) <Cstryon AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:49AM (#29161181)

    My daughter had Leukemia, she passed away earlier this year. It still works fine, I still shouldn't have to pay for your health care. We got help for hers, but it wasn't all payed for, I still owe money.

    But if it wasn't for those tradesmen, with a skill that they worked hard to learn, and if it wasn't for their interest in hematology, and oncology, my daughter would not have gotten the care she did.

    Those doctors helped her beat the cancer, (She got sick from having no immune system, that's what we lost her from.) I truly believe that if they didn't earn that money, and say, " Hey, I worked hard to learn this, I will charge for my goods." she wouldn't have gotten expert care.

    My dad was a mason for ~30-40 years. He can build a damn good wall, and a damn good house. He could build one for you. Don't you deserve shelter? Doesn't he deserve to get paid what he chooses for his skill and trade? Health care is a need, but I shouldn't have to pay for you to get it. I should be paying those men and women who work hard to learn how to treat people.

    Have you ever waited at the MVD? You want those same people to choose when you can be treated?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:49AM (#29161483)

    From my own experience (as a 'johhny foreigner')
    1) Assume everyone is a terrorist
    2) Presume they are guilty so they get fingerprinted & mugshoted.
    3) Then only let those who can persuade the 'jobsworths' on Immigration that they have not come to the us to blow up the Empire State Building or Mt Rushmore.
    4) If they have been to the US before, check to see if there are any outstanding speeding or parking tickets in their name. If so deport them on the next flight brandishing them as undesirables even though the offense(speeding on Mass Tpk) was some 18 years before.
    5) If they finally let you in it is with the stark warning 'Don't step out of line or you will be in Gitmo before you can say I want a lawyer'

    And you say the US has no border policy? Sounds like one to me.

  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:01AM (#29161533) Homepage

    A great majority of Americans have thrown science and logic out the window, and choose instead to vote with their passions and emotions.

    If this isn't a social disease, I don't know what is.

    Keeping on topic, the healthcare debate is a great example of this, given that the right wing have successfully managed to convince the masses to actively protest against their own interests by spreading a net of thinly-veiled lies and passionate arguments.

    What sort of person would actually believe that the president wanted to start "death squads" without actually verifying the claim?

    I'd be happy to have a reasoned debate about the issue -- there are actually good arguments to be had on both sides of the issue. However, reason appears to have left the picture entirely.

  • by MadUndergrad ( 950779 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:49AM (#29161775)

    Mod parent up. This is a good reason for a social safety net if I've ever heard one. So what if they don't "deserve" it? At least it'll keep them from robbing and murdering you.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:52AM (#29161789) Homepage Journal

    It makes very little difference whether it is unprecedented or not. Diseases need ONE carrier. That is sufficient.

    Start looking at the numbers (over a million undocumented, uninsured and entirely legal US citizens live homeless in the New York subway system, and most cities don't bother to try and estimate any more).

    Now look at the total in the US who are considered to be living below a living wage (which is a good deal higher than the so-called "poverty line" but is still the minimum for basic nutritional and environmental concerns). It's getting on for 85% of the KNOWN population!

    Since the unknown population will certainly lack any kind of healthcare, have a dangerously unhealthy diet, and be living in unsanitary conditions, the population at high risk is going to be much higher than that 85%.

    And, no, the suburbs won't be safe. Many people in the suburbs work in cities, and when in cities are likely to come in contact with one or more people who are at high risk. Airborne disease doesn't require more than a single cough.

    Swine Flu started in ONE small village in Mexico. It wasn't even looked at by heath officials there until it had spread for months. After Mexico declared it had a problem, ambulance workers and hospitals refused to take anyone with flu symptoms and health inspectors refused to monitor infected areas. Result - it spread out of control.

    Health officials in the US largely ignored it even after people started dropping dead. It's now a raging pandemic that was entirely preventable. There were MANY opportunities to stop it, by Mexico and by the US, but cowardice in Mexico and greed in the US resulted in inaction.

    Once upon a time, West Nile Virus was practically unknown in the US. It is now a killer that claims lives from all parts of society. Yes, the poor suffer more, but the poor don't suffer exclusively.

    The MRSA "superbug" (which kills more hospital patients than any other single cause) originated in ONE hosptial in Australia and can be traced to ONE patient carrying the disease from ward to ward. ONE carrier and we now have a bug that kills globally.

    People across society WILL die from these new diseases, and when they do, the newspapers will doubtless claim nobody could have foretold it happening, and that the country was powerless anyway.

    From the days of Typhoid Mary, we've known of the dangers even a single carrier has posed. And every malnourished person, every uninsured person, every person unable to take an hour off work to see a doctor for economic reasons, or those who won't for religious reasons, they are ALL potential carriers. Every one of them.

    We're damned lucky that the rare diseases that have broken out in the US and Europe in the last hundred years have been relatively difficult to transmit. Marburg being one of the deadlier.

    Spanish Flu wasn't a rare disease, just a very deadly mutation of a common one. If you include that, and the hundreds of millions it killed, then we're still damned lucky. That was still before widespread travel, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antiviral-resistant viruses.

    History says there need by just ONE contageous carrier for a global catastrophe. The failure to provide adequate healthcare to hundreds of millions of Americans increases the risk hundreds of millions of times over. The failure to research "less profitable" diseases (the heliobacter-caused stomach ulcers being a classic example) increases the risks even to those who ARE insured and ARE going to the doctors when needed.

    And the failure to provide adequate medical care to poorer nations just creates fertile breeding grounds for even deadlier diseases.

    Humanity's epitath will likely read: Suicide By Microbe.

  • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:00AM (#29161815) Homepage

    Those doctors helped her beat the cancer, (She got sick from having no immune system, that's what we lost her from.) I truly believe that if they didn't earn that money, and say, " Hey, I worked hard to learn this, I will charge for my goods." she wouldn't have gotten expert care.

    I'm curious to why you think experts in countries with socialized medicine don't get paid.

  • by oji-sama ( 1151023 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @04:43AM (#29162189)
    What (s)he said. Also, while the experts do get paid, if you really want to see that the treatment is paid completely by you, nothing prevents you going to a private doctor and paying some more. Although unfortunately some of those private treatments are also subsidized... mmmm. Perhaps one should go and get the treatment abroad...

    (And nothing prevents the experts from starting a private clinic either)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @04:46AM (#29162197)

    Oddly in the UK even the private section is sometimes not for profit eg BUPA. It comes from a time when insurance was a way of spreading the risk not screwing you clients. May insurance schemes were mutual and some still are, like the COOP.

  • by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @05:05AM (#29162269) Homepage

    Well, at least there are no government bureaucrats standing between the sick people and the doctors who could detect and treat these diseases.

    Sure. You've got private bureaucrats instead. More cost, less accountability. Tell me again how it's better.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @05:32AM (#29162341)

    I'm willing to believe that. But it's only worth voting the Democrats out of office on that issue if there's reason to believe that it would happen if the Republicans were in power. But the Republicans controlled both branches of government, with sizable majorities, for six years, and it didn't happen. Instead, we got a ridiculous government-funded prescription drugs entitlement in Medicare Part D---the exact opposite of any attempt at cost reduction.

    To argue against the current party in power on an issue in a way that's convincing, you need to find an issue on which there is some viable alternative party that has a better position on that issue.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:40AM (#29163839)


    Thank you for bringing some sanity to that horribly cynical and pessimistic first post.

    Slashdotters: the modern world, the world we live in *right now*, is better than any point in human history in every measurable way. That is a simple fact.

    Yes, you're concerned about people below the poverty line now. So am I. But you have to realize that modern Americans in *poverty* have far more luxuries than the richest man on earth 200 years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:01AM (#29169791)

    I think I would trust someone doing their job for their love of it over someone doing it for the over-sized paycheck they're getting. All this free market stuff is bullshit.

  • by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:23AM (#29171619)

    "Seriously, healthcare is no different than having a standing army"

    Thomas Jefferson described standing armies as "inconsistent" with freedom. Elbridge Gerry described them as the "bane of liberty" and James Madison said that the "greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies."

    I therefore concur with your conclusion. Allowing our Federal government ro run healthcare is a danger to liberty, and completely inconsistent with freedom.

    Note: One would think that after the Federal government lied about the Iraq war, lied about the stimulus, continues to lie about the Wall Street bailouts, undermined our freedom with the USA PATRIOT Act, military commissions act, indefinite detentions, warrantless wiretapping, telecom immunity, etc. etc. the people would be a little more reluctant to trust them with trillions of healthcare $$$ and more of their personal information.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.