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The Medicine of Fear

WorldNetDaily gives AAPS-affiliated doctor Elizabeth Lee Vliet plenty of space to fearmonger about disease-ridden immigrants and how Ebola will kill us all.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/26/2014

Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet

WorldNetDaily apparently has a columnist slot dedicated to fearmongering physicians linked to the right-wing Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Lee Hieb has been effectively replaced at WND by Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, a former AAPS director who's just as factually challenged and obsessed with fearmongering as her predecessor.

In her June 17 WND column, Vliet tried to spread fear about filthy, disease-ridden immigrants:

A flood of illegals has massively surged at our southwestern borders. The economic impact of medical care, education and incarceration for illegals forced on taxpayers is bankrupting Arizona.

Why are such swarms entering the U.S. illegally NOW, particularly children? Newspapers in Mexico and Central and South America are actually describing U.S. “open borders,” encouraging people to come with promises of food stamps or “amnesty.” It is textbook Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm and collapse the economic and social systems, in order to replace them with a “new socialist order” under federal control.

Carried by this tsunami of illegals are the invisible “travelers” our politicians don’t like to mention: diseases the U.S. had controlled or virtually eradicated: tuberculosis (TB), Chagas disease, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, measles, plus more. I have been working on medical projects in Central and South America since 2009, so I am aware of problems these countries face from such diseases.

If this sort of fearmongering sounds familiar, it should. The AAPS is perhaps best known for publishing a journal article by Madeline Cosman claiming an increase in leprosy cases that she blamed on illegal immigrants. In fact, Cosman falsely inflated the number of cases.

Nevertheless, Vliet continued the fearmongering:

Vaccine-preventable diseases like chicken pox, measles and whooping cough spread like wildfire among unvaccinated children. Other illnesses, along with scabies and head lice, also thrive as children are transported by bus and herded into crowded shelters – courtesy of the federal government. Treatment costs are borne by taxpayers.

Our public health departments complain of being overtaxed by a dozen cases of measles or whooping cough. How will they cope with thousands of patients with many different, and uncommon, diseases? Americans, especially Medicaid patients, will see major delays for treatment.

But the fact that there are large numbers of unvaccinated children has been exacerbated by the AAPS' longtime stance against mandatory vaccination. The AAPS even invited Andrew Wakefield, the doctor whose claim that vaccines cause autism had to be retracted by the medical journal that published it after it was determined to be an "elaborate fraud," to speak at its 2011 annual meeting.

Perhaps Vliet should address the issue of fearmongering about vaccination and its quite tangible consequences before she fearmongers further about disease-ridden immigrants. But she won't, as her June 30 column offered more of the same:

Border Patrol agents have long been at risk for violence from drug cartels and criminals. Just last week Tucson sector agents were fired upon by Mexican aircraft inside the U.S. border. But now there is a new, insidious threat to Border Patrol agents, families and communities from the crush of illegal immigrants at our southern border, which has become a gateway for disease entry.

Border agents have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), H1N1 (“swine”) flu and chicken pox. Other diseases like dengue and Ebola virus also may be in this wave of illegals, since people are coming from Central and South America, the Middle East and West Africa. Dengue fever, including the hemorrhagic form, is already raging in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico. Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever is seriously out of control in several West African countries.

These diseases are highly contagious, especially in crowded and poor sanitary conditions in the detention and processing centers where thousands of illegals are housed until sent to other areas of America, without full screening for such diseases.

The extent of the threat appears to be unknown, or is being kept secret. We do know that the federal government advertised in January for “escorts” for up to 65,000 unaccompanied minors, indicating this flood of illegals was orchestrated.

Ebola? Really? At the time Vliet wrote her column, Ebola is pretty much confined to Africa, so it's extremely unlikely that it could come to the U.S. by the southern border. Further, some of those diseases Vliet listed can be vaccinated against but again, the AAPS for which Vliet served as a director opposes mandatory vaccinations despite their life-saving nature.

Vliet's July 11 WND column picked one particular disease to fearmonger about:

Seventy-five percent of current illegal immigrants are coming from countries in Central America, South America, the Middle East, West Africa, China, India, Pakistan and others far beyond Mexico where multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is common and extremely widespread in children and adults. Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) is an even more serious form of TB, accounting for about 10 percent of cases in these countries, particularly Central/South America and India. Many illegal border crossers now flooding the U.S. southern border are carrying an invisible, disease-causing co-traveler: the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium.

MDR-TB does not respond well to treatment, even with complicated and expensive medications that must be taken over a two-year period and can cause severe adverse drug reactions. XDR-TB doesn’t respond well even to second-line drugs and therefore is more likely to cause death.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has downplayed the risks, but anonymous nurses and doctors from Lackland AFB have come forward to say that the government is covering up a serious public health threat. One health-care worker was quoted saying: “The amount of tuberculosis is astonishing. The nurses are telling us the kids are really sick.”

Normally, the CDC would be providing warnings and preventive steps for the public to take. This time, however, the CDC has been strangely silent. In fact, medical staff at detention centers have been threatened with criminal prosecution if they report these cases to the public or press.

Or it could be that, unlike Vliet, the Centers for Disease Control doesn't have an agenda to fearmonger about filthy immigrants and can therefore focus on the actual level of the threat. Indeed, a Fox affiliate reports that there is no threat to the general public from immigrants who might be carrying TB, citing an actual health expert in the process:

Dr. Dennis Conrad, professor of pediatrics in the division of Immunology and Infectious Disease at The University of Texas Health Science Center, says TB is generally spread through close, prolonged contact with a patient who is contagious.

However, he says most people infected with TB never have symptoms and are not contagious, especially children 6 years old or younger.

The Associated Press reports Texas sees 1300 cases of TB annually.

Conrad believes reports of infected immigrant children should not raise concerns among the general public.

"It is roughly the same risk that has always existed due to the immigrant population," he said. "What's more important since those children are being housed together in close environments, is that their health care providers who care for them -- they need to screen them for infectious diseases."

If only Vliet cared more about reality than she does about fearmongering. But she doesn't. Thus, in her Aug. 3 WND column, Vliet latched on to the Ebola scare:

Deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever is raging out of control in multiple countries in West Africa. Border Patrol agents confirmed that West Africans have been apprehended coming via Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, with a number of seriously ill individuals whisked away to undisclosed locations for treatment of undisclosed illnesses. ABC News reported in mid-July that seriously ill illegals were flown from Texas to Ventura Naval base recently with high fever, respiratory difficulties, and coughing blood. At least three required ICU admission. No information was released on what illness was diagnosed, but the time course, severity of symptoms, and need for immediate ICU treatment is not typical for tuberculosis and more consistent with Ebola or hemorrhagic forms of dengue fever.

But the WND article to which Vliet links as evidence says nothing about seriously ill West Africans crossing the southern border and being "whisked away to undisclosed locations for treatment of undisclosed illnesses." Still, Vliet gets more unhinged and conspiratorial as her column goes on:

Ebola’s use as a weapon of terror and mass destruction has been documented by, which reports that the former Soviet Union biological weapons program had weaponized the Ebola virus, and that Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese terror group, recently sent members to Africa to harvest the virus during an outbreak.

After long neglecting the contagious disease issues that arose in early June, on July 31, ABC, NBC, CBS and other news outlets simultaneously reported the arrival of two Ebola patients from Africa. Does this give “plausible deniability” to the possible role of illegal border-crossers in bringing Ebola to the U.S.?

In fact, the article she cites are only speculation and unverified reports (emphasis added):

Reports suggested that the Ebola virus was researched and weaponized by the former Soviet Union's biological weapons program Biopreparat. Dr. Ken Alibek, former the First Deputy Director of Biopreparat, speculated that the Russians had aerosolized the Ebola virus for dissemination as a biological weapon. The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo reportedly sent members to Zaire during an outbreak to harvest the virus.

Given that this article is undated, Vliet has no basis to claim any of these purported incidents happened "recently."

Meanwhile, PolitiFact points out just how remote the possibility of Ebola-infected immigrants from West Africa being smuggled across the southern border is, citing actual experts in doing so:

"The incubation period is two to 21 days, so theoretically, an African could fly from an infected area, land in a Mexican airport, take a bus toward the border, hire a coyote to take him across and then ‘present’ with Ebola," said Thomas Fekete, section chief for infectious diseases at the Temple University School of Medicine. "But this presupposes a suicidal person who also has the resources for this kind of travel."


Another problem: If you had such an infection, the chances are good that you would die on the journey to the United States, said Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. "You would be too sick to make it to the border by foot," he said.
Numerous experts agree that there is little threat of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. because the U.S. health infrastructure is much more robust than it is in West Africa. And since Ebola is not transmitted through the air but, rather, by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, it is indeed "not very contagious."

By spreading lies and conspiracy theories, Vliet is acting in an irresponsible manner with her Ebola fearmongering.


What's a fact-averse doctor to do when the CDC refuses to cooperate with Vliet's fearmongering tactics? Find a country whose health warnings about Ebola are somewhat closer to her own.

Thus, an Aug. 8 WND article by Leo Hohmann quoted Vliet bashing the CDC for not fearmongering and praising Canadian health officials for more closely aligning to her agenda:

[Vliet] also pointed to a 2012 Canadian study in which healthy and infected monkeys were housed side by side in cages but had no physical contact. The healthy monkeys contracted Ebola.

And, according to a Canadian public health advisory, airborne spread of the virus among humans is “strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.”

Generally, it takes far more than one to 10 organisms to transmit a virus.

“That’s one reason the virus is so out of control, is it takes so few particles,” Vliet said. “Dr. Hatfill, and the Canadian public health advisory, which is more detailed than the CDC, they talk about airborne transmission in much more specific terms than the CDC does.”

Ebola virus also stays active longer in body fluids such as blood and semen than most other viruses.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada fact sheet on Ebola, the virus remains communicable “as long as blood, secretions, organs, or semen contain the virus.”

The Canadian alert also states that Ebola virus can remain active in a man’s semen 61 days after the onset of illness, and transmission of the disease through semen has occurred up to seven weeks after a man has recovered from the illness.

“This is why I’m concerned, as a physician, that perhaps our hospitals are not as well prepared as we would like to think. Because if other doctors don’t know this and if the CDC is not saying anything, if somebody recovers from Ebola and 60 days later the man ejaculates, he could infect his partner,” Vliet said. “I just think it’s huge. I think they are really underestimating the risk. I understand they are not wanting to create panic, but if doctors are not used to treating Ebola and they’re not getting the same information from the CDC as the Canadian doctors are getting ... I’m not trying to create a panic. I’m just saying let’s get the information out.”

Actually, Vliet is very much trying to create a panic. Why else would she disdain medical advice from her home country and embrace foreigners who at least somewhat echo her panic manufacturing?

Hohmann also quoted Dr. Jane Orient doing more fearmongering, but he failed to identify that Orient is the executive director of AAPS. But then, WND is a place where AAPS' out-of-the-mainstream views and desire to instill fear in patients is not news -- and where Vliet is considered a credible source.

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