The immigrant crisis in Europe continues to dominate headlines as conflict rages on in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. Many of the refugees from the fighting have found their way to Germany, a country that has been a haven for war weary people seeking asylum throughout these troubled times.
However, the massive influx of people is at the root of serious public health concerns that have put a potentially backbreaking strain on the German healthcare system. Nearly a million immigrants have made their way to Germany, and the numbers alone would prove problematic for any health agency.
Numbers might very well be the least of Germany’s problems. According to the Institute for Rescue and Emergency Medicine, as many as 75,000 immigrants entering the country are carrying diseases they did not even know they had. Having developed resistances to these diseases, immigrant carriers showing no symptoms could infect Germans whose immune systems have no experience with foreign diseases.
As a result, German doctors are seeing outbreaks of diseases that have never been seen before in Germany or have long since been eradicated and controlled. German public health officials have been on the lookout for diseases like Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, diphtheria, ebola, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, measles, meningitis, mumps, polio, scabies, tetanus, tuberculosis, typhus and whooping cough.
Infection risk among the German population is extremely high, however, they are not the only ones at risk of contracting new diseases. Immigrants to Germany have no resistance to native German diseases and are equally as likely to find themselves afflicted with a potentially deadly infection. Tens of thousands of immigrants have not yet been immunized, and children in particular are at risk. However, German health services are already seeing their supplies for 20 different vaccines begin to shrink, with 16 more having run out entirely.
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