The case of the mystery virus, cont’d

Twin Cities internist Chris Foley is a faithful reader whom I know in his professional capacity. In mid-September he wrote us to address the case of the mystery virus. According to ABC News (at the linked story), the cause of the virus was “unidentified.” Dr. Foley commented:

It might be worth a short commentary re the connection between the sudden “mystery” virus that is hospitalizing children all over the US and the indiscriminate distribution of illegal alien kids “all over the US.” To wit: “Human rhinoviruses and enteroviruses in influenza-like illness in Latin America.”

‘Tis anything but a mystery, yet the MSM appears utterly blinded.

In a follow-up message, Dr. Foley added:

This is basically the same virus commonly seen in the equatorial Americas and South America. The very odd emergence of this virus at this time – especially just prior to the new school year and now fueled by the congregation of children in schools – demands an explanation. The only plausible one is that this has been brought here from south of the – now non-existent – border.

Although there will be a good deal of epidemiological work to be done before this can be scientifically associated, there is a deafening silence on the part of public health officials and the mainstream media in even speculating about this association. This is not simply a case of being politically selective about the news, it is downright dangerous and could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the emergence of diseases long absent from daily life in America now suddenly popping up “inexplicably.” By the way the article from the Journal that I cited [linked above] likely represents gross underreporting which is typical in South America.

We posted Dr. Foley’s messages here.

Today Neil Munro reports at the Daily Caller: “Obama’s border policy fueled epidemic, evidence shows.” In a long article that doesn’t go quite as far as the headline suggests, Munro demonstrates that Dr. Foley treads where public authorities fear to go. Munro sets out in search of evidence that would absolve the influx of illegal alien minors and runs head-on into a wall of silence:

A series of government researchers, health experts and academics refused to comment, or else urged self-censorship, when they were pressed by TheDC for statistical and scientific data that would exonerate Obama and his deputies.

“I would just steer away from that— it is not helpful, so why bring it up,” said Lone Simonsen, a professor at George Washington University’s Department of Global Health and the research director of the university’s Global Epidemiology Program. “A better angle [is] ‘We’re just learning what this outbreak is all about,’” she told TheDC.

Columbia University researcher Rafal Tokarz, one of the nation’s top experts on the EV-D68 virus, declined to comment to TheDC about the impact of Obama’s border policies. “I cannot comment… and at this time it would not be appropriate for me to do so… I would really rather not comment,” he said in email conversations.

The issue is dangerous for scientists because it could spike existing public opposition to the unpopular effort by Obama, Democrats and business-backed Republicans to increase the migration of foreign nationals — including many foreign scientists — into the United States. That inflow is a top priority for the Democratic leaders, who have the power to make life difficult for grant-dependent American scientists who discover politically damaging information.

Munro then traces the outbreak of the virus, reporting that “the big epidemic arrived in August 2014.” On October 24, he notes, the number of confirmed infections reached 998. That’s 300 times the infection rate seen in the 33-year period from 1970 to 2003. Insofar as it is possible, Munro dredges up the related data documenting the influx of illegals. He posits that “a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that 9,000 Central American kids aged 12 and younger arrived by September 2013, and 40,000 more arrived by August 2014.”

Munro notes the distribution of previously resettled Central American minors in Missouri, Colorado and Illinois while conceding the difficulty of tracing the distribution of the new wave of illegal minors. The difficulty derives from the federal authorities’ refusal to disclose where this year’s wave of illegal Central American minors has been distributed. He observes that the “EV-D68 epidemic suddenly appeared in Missouri, Colorado and Chicago in the second week of August, sometimes even before schools opened.”

Munro then explores the nature of the outbreak:

There are three genetically distinct subtypes of EV-D68. These subtypes are technically called “clades” and all three are apparently contributing to the 2014 epidemic.

TheDC asked Oberste — the top CDC official — if all three clades are involved in the epidemic.

“In the current outbreak, there is one major group/clade which contains the vast majority of viruses, a minor group/clade that is related to the major group, and an outlier group/clade that has only a few viruses in it,” the CDC replied.

That’s critical information, because viral epidemics are usually powered by one new variety of a familiar virus. For example, the annual flu epidemics usually consist of a new mutation of an older flu virus. Because it is new, it bypasses immune responses that people acquired during prior flu waves, and then quickly jumps from person to person across the United States.

If confirmed, the presence of many strains would be further evidence that a population movement triggered the outbreaks, said Eden Wells, an assistant epidemiology professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

And then there is this:

When CDC officials were asked by TheDC to explain this multi-city, multi-strain anomaly, they waffled: “There is no evidence that unaccompanied children brought EV-D68 to the United States; we are not aware of any of these children testing positive for the virus,” Oberste replied.

Munro concludes:

here’s plenty of evidence from government agencies and from doctors that the epidemic suddenly appeared in many places after the arrival of the 40,000 young migrants in the summer of 2014, and that it included many strains of EV-D68.

Scientists likely can use gene-sequencing technology to disprove or prove any genetic link with the EV-D68 samples found in Latin America, or differences to viruses found in the United States before 2009.

“It is early to draw conclusion or to make associations, certainty about causation…[although] I totally understand why people are trying to reach for associations,“ Wells said.

But that’s not a priority for the government-funded researchers. “The interest right now is to understand the behavior of the virus and whether or not this virus has changed its infectiousness or its virulence, its severity, since the previous years… that’s No. 1,” said Wells.

“Our issue is not to say ’It came from here or there or wherever.’”

Munro concedes the difficulty of arriving at a definitive conclusion, but I trust that the truth will out some time after Obama issues his royal decree regularizing illegals after next Tuesday’s midterm elections. In the meantime, don’t miss Munro’s valiant effort to sort out the fact.

UPDATE: At Conservative Treehouse, Sundance has been on the case for a while.