A little fearmongering from VT Watchdog

Scary headline earlier today:

More than one-third of refugees in Vermont test positive for tuberculosis

Immigrant Resettlement Program. )Not exactly as illustrated)

Refugee Resettlement Program. (Not exactly as illustrated)

That story comes to us courtesy of Vermont Watchdog, a conservative “news” site. But before you go investing your 401K in surgical mask manufacturers, there’s more you need to know.

The story is based entirely on a single fact: Of the 901 refugees admitted to Vermont since 2013, 318 tested positive for TB.

Those numbers were provided to Watchdog by the state Health Department. Scary, right? Aliens among us are bearing potentially fatal diseases, right? Rutland had better pull the plug on that Syrian refugee plan, lest it be overrun by plague-infested furriners, right?

Ehh, not so much.

Watchdog omits or downplays the mitigating information received from the state. The most important detail, courtesy of Health Department spox Ben Truman:

Most individuals who test positive have latent infection, not active illness, and are not infectious. … As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease (or active infection).

More from the Centers for Disease Control:

People with latent TB infection:

— Have no symptoms

— Don’t feel sick

— Can’t spread TB bacteria to others

The CDC notes that latent TB can convert to active TB in some cases, “especially [in] people who have a week immune system.”

So it’s not that there’s zero concern; it’s that Watchdog seeks to incite a vast overreaction.

Even more telling: the federal government carefully screens refugees for TB and other diseases. However, there is no screening for tourists or students or temporary workers, or for Americans returning from abroad. If you want to be worried about TB, that’s where you should look. Refugees are the least of your concerns.

Inflammatory headlines and deceptive stories are nothing new for Vermont Watchdog, which is  the Green Mountain outpost of a Koch Brothers-connected operation. Its stock in trade is overblown scandals about Democrats and big government. (One of its “news” “categories” is “NANNY STATE,” so there’s that.) But even by Watchdog “standards,” this story is a baseless exercise in fearmongering.

And if the reader comments are anything to judge by, then Watchdog’s fearmongering is reaching its target audience. Here’s a thoughtful comment from “CW Convoy.”

Vermin in Vermont-Seems fitting _____

WTF !….Why are the Nationally Culturally Destructive Progressive Cultural Marxist Liberal Left allowed to bring these people into a Civilized Country like America?….Where’s the opposition to this invasion?

And from “petemobtv”:

Thank the Democrats. They are the reason this filth is here. And MORE on the way. When your kid comes down with any of those diseases once eradicated in America – measles, whooping cough, polio, TB – and then dies….thank a Democrat.

And, succinctly, from “johan longan”:

Yeah, bring more of that filthy crap to our country.

Knowledge is an effective antidote to fear. Too bad Vermont Watchdog is more interested in the latter than in the former.

11 thoughts on “A little fearmongering from VT Watchdog

  1. newzjunqie

    “People with latent TB infection do not have symptoms, and they cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with TB disease. For this reason, people with latent TB infection are often prescribed treatment to prevent them from developing TB disease.
    Treatment of latent TB infection is essential for controlling and eliminating TB in the United
    States … Treatment of latent TB infection should be initiated after the possibility of TB disease has been excluded.”
    Seems like a high percentage of ppl with TB-but with no other stats, an unknown. Even latent form is not w/o risk even to the person infected-has to do with the amount of bacteria present:
    “…The QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube Test is a new diagnostic test that measures T cells specific to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) antigens.
    Healthcare workers in the US must be tested for TB-and I think must undergo treatment regimen prior to continuation of . Since personally tested negative-unsure.

    Watchdog & other rightwing sites that attract seemingly uneducated commenters have a high level of creepy comments. However both sides frequently in a dead heat for typical assortment of nasty digs, mean-spirited insults & invectives, have personally come to loathe it all, preferring equal-opportunity insult for bad actors on both sides.

    Trying to rehab & move away from left-right paradigm & its partisan attacks, shifting to an Indy-moded mentality which is primarily Libertarian. The helix dividing both L&R tangents, also includes, elements of both. We need honest brokers & responsible arbiters on both sides acting as counterbalance to disaster we can plainly see from the debacle we’re facing
    here in VT & to clean up politics as we now know it.

  2. chuck gregory

    The commenters are probably the same people who objected to having a state motto in Latin because Mexican immigrants aren’t American…

  3. Gina Brelsford

    I wonder what the stats are for active TB, which is I understand to be a highly contagious bacterial infection that can quickly spread by breathing in the air that an infected person has contaminated through: Breathing. Coughing.
    Just wondering, not fear mongering.

  4. chuck gregory

    The CDC reported for Vermont:

    “Although the overall rate of TB in the United States has declined substantially since 1992, the rate of decrease among foreign-born persons has been much smaller than that for U.S.-born persons. In 2013, Vermont:
     Ranked 46th among the 50 states in TB rates (0.8 per 100,000 persons).
     0% of TB cases occurred in foreign-born persons.”

    Somebody tell Watchdog it’s okay to come out from under the bed.

  5. Pingback: Vermont Health Department concealing number of refugees with contagious TB disease - Watchdog.org

      1. crankyoldawg

        An alert from VW is the reason for my having read your offensive offensive on their actions. If the local fluff peddler rag here in my part of VT has run a story on the subject, it has certainly been well hidden among its daily attacks upon any and all deemed by them to be even close to conservative in nature or politics. If nothing else, VW has served to raise awareness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s