The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Emerging Diseases; Border Patrol

Aired July 4, 2003 - 18:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is a special holiday edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Friday, July 4. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Jan Hopkins.
JAN HOPKINS, GUEST HOST: Good everyone, everyone.

Tonight, two very different threats to this country, the threat of deadly emerging diseases, monkeypox, SARS, and Lyme disease are just a few of an estimated 30 emerging diseases posing a threat to the American population. We'll talk to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson about efforts to contain the threat.

But first, we begin with a different kind of threat, dangerous gaps in security along our nation's borders. Securing the country's borders was, until recently, the responsibility of several federal agencies, Justice, Treasury, and Agriculture, but now border security falls under the new Department of Homeland Security and it is not an easy assignment as Peter Viles reports from the U.S.-Canadian border.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Used access roads, this is the subject we've been chasing here for about three hours.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just how easy is it to sneak into the United States? Well, it's not as easy as this guy thinks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This individual is trying, starting to run.

VILES: He ought to run. This is Border Patrol video of a drug smuggler trying to sneak across the Canadian border earlier this month but there's an eye in the sky, a hidden camera like this one. Border Patrol is watching from this command center miles away and here comes the Border Patrol agent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's approaching the middle of the highway at this time and he's jumping the fence at this time.

VILES: And walking right into the arms of the United States Border Patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie 23, be advised across the highway he is in custody.

VILES: A victory for the good guys in a battle that will never end. The Border Patrol protects nearly 6,000 miles of U.S. borders with 10,400 agents and those borders are busy. Four hundred twenty- seven million people entered the United States last year the vast majority legally, 1.4 million were arrested, intercepted or otherwise turned back, but somehow an estimate 700,000 illegal immigrants cross the border each year.

STEVEN CAMAROTA, CTR. FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It seems almost certain that the most common way to get into the United States is to walk across the border, usually in small groups and often, but not always, with the help of a guide usually referred to as a coyote who shows you what you need to do.

VILES (on camera): The truth is it is almost impossible to protect America's borders because for generations this country has welcomed visitors and immigrants from all over the world and that attitude is reflected in our borders themselves. This is the border between the United States and Canada, the United States here, Canada here. As you can see there's no fence along this border.

(voice-over): Along this stretch of border there is one agent for every two and a half miles of border, doesn't sound like a fair fight, but the government does have hidden cameras and decades of insight into the mind of a smuggler.

JOSEPH MELLIA, UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL: They'll go through all the other smuggling routes that all the other smugglers go through and we know those routes. We have a lot of those routes monitored either by sensor or by camera or just our every day patrol.

VILES: Since 9/11, the federal government has hired 3,100 new Border Patrol agents, just as important new technology like the hidden cameras that spotted this minivan crossing illegally on a back road from Canada in May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm following a minivan that's a possible southbound intrusion.

VILES: Using a network of cameras, Border Patrol stalked the vehicle until agents ten miles away could run it down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 87 overpass, it's now making a left. I believe there's a BP unit behind it.

VILES: Peter Viles, CNN, Highgate Springs, Vermont.


HOPKINS: Along the Mexican border, illegal immigration is on the rise, up ten percent in the last eight months alone despite new technology and more agents. The increased security is, however, making immigrant smugglers more desperate and innovative.

Casey Wian reports from the Mexican border.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no question much of the U.S.-Mexico border has become more secure with added Border Patrol manpower and equipment including new helicopters, towering cameras, boats with more range and remote sensors that can detect desert foot traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That information is submitted directly to the FBI.

WIAN: Computer systems are being upgraded so agents know instantly if illegal border crossers have criminal records. Still they keep coming.

BRUCE WARD, LEGACY INS PORT DIRECTOR: What we're seeing is a big increase in vehicle smuggling, people getting into trunks of cars, specially built compartments. Last week, a couple weeks ago we had a would-be nun that was not a nun smuggling and she had someone in the dashboard of a vehicle.

WIAN: Border clamp downs in urban areas have pushed smugglers and their human cargo into dangerous desert and mountain crossings.

TODD WATKINS, BORDER PATROL AGENT: The fact that they would even try it, I think demonstrates the desperation. It's very common for the alien smugglers to leave behind members of the group who can't keep up. I've seen pregnant women walk up and surrender on top of the mountain because they got left. Maria Amia (ph) is one of the American victims of changing immigrant smuggler tactics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They go on that direction behind those bushes.

WIAN: Her once peaceful 10-acre home near the border has been overrun by smugglers who steal water, food, and clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate them. There is not one spot of my property that hasn't been invaded by them.

WIAN: Then last year she was hospitalized for two months after a nighttime crash on this interstate with a van full of illegal immigrants driving the wrong way with their lights off. She's been devastated financially. The Border Patrol says it's placed sensors near her property.

(on camera): This is the most heavily guarded stretch of the United States border. There are two fences, one about seven feet high over there in the distance, another one about 15 feet high and it is under constant surveillance by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Despite that, some immigrants manage to find ways of getting across here.

(voice-over): Some go underground, literally. This is the end of a tunnel recently discovered by the Border Patrol in a public parking lot just a few hundred feet from the world's busiest land border crossing. It was mainly used for drugs.

BEN VAUMAN, U.S. BORDER PATROL: One person would crawl through the tunnel from the Mexican side and reach this chamber and he would pass packages of marijuana to another person that would be in the storm drain. He would have to then pass them up through this slot to another person that would be lying underneath a truck with a false bottom.

WIAN: Agents only discovered the truck because of the strong smell of 3,300 pounds of marijuana. The suspects said they move several loads weekly. Authorities have discovered six similar tunnels since border security was tightened after 9/11.

MICHAEL VIGIL, DEA SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The tunnels are of great concern because today it could be drugs and illegal aliens and then tomorrow it could be weapons of mass destruction and, you know, a terrorist coming through those tunnels.

WIAN: The DEA says it's working with the military on technology to identify tunnels because agents are convinced many more exist.

Casey Wian CNN, San Ysidro, California.


HOPKINS: The Department of Homeland Security now oversees 22 government agencies that has a budget of almost $38 billion for this year. More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents have been added since September 11th and still an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants enter this country every year.

Lou Dobbs spoke with Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Borders and Transportation, at the Department of Homeland Security and asked him about the enormous challenges of securing this country's borders.


ASA HUTCHINSON, UNDERSECRETARY FOR BORDER AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY: Well, anytime you live in a free country that's dependent upon commerce, and we've had a history of open borders, it's a huge challenge but the key is first of all using technology, putting more people on the border which we have done and our border security is greatly enhanced since September 11th.

We've made enormous strides but we always will have a challenge in a free society. What we're concentrating upon is information about people who visit our country, technology between the ports of entry and then being able to enforce with the information that we have.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Mr. Secretary, as you point out this nexus of commercial interests, academic interests, even foreign policy interests at our borders, at the way in which we interact with our foreign visitors and guests all of this comes about without truly a national policy on immigration. There has been no enunciation by this administration, not by previous administrations, for a number of years.

Do we need a national policy in which we have a political consensus about the trade-off between a free country's interest and its security of its borders? Do we need to reach to that level because there are 700,000 illegal aliens crossing into this country every year?

HUTCHINSON: We have a national policy. The question is whether you want to change that national policy and you have to develop a political consensus to do that. Presently, we have an immigration policy that allows from countries a certain number each year. It's ranged from 300,000 to a million.

DOBBS: I'm sorry, Mr. Secretary. I mean that's the legal immigration policy but a border policy that permits 700,000 illegal aliens a year to cross into this country is either no policy at all or it is simply a lack of enforcement of it.

HUTCHINSON: Well, and that is a separate issue and you have to decide in this country as to the level of enforcement resources you want to put toward that problem.

We are trying to build integrity in the system which means you have to have a broad enforcement policy but you also have to target it and right now we obviously want to target those criminal aliens that pose a danger to our society but at the same time to be responsive to the broad allegations of illegality and respond when we have that information. That's the balance that we're trying to achieve and it's up to policymakers to see if there should be any change in that.

DOBBS: I guess that's what I'm really getting to, Mr. Secretary. Again, your people working in national - the tremendous number of issues you're facing, seven million containers, ports, borders, intelligence abroad, all of these issues are immensely complex, but the fact is one can't help but wonder if you have 700,000 illegal aliens being permitted to cross into this country because one assumes at some juncture you have to say they could be terrorists.


DOBBS: The war on drugs, the number of drugs that come into this country, those could be as well anthrax or chemical or biological agents, other chemical or biological agents. At some point, shouldn't our politicians, our political leaders be making that determination to make your job easier, to make us more secure?

HUTCHINSON: Well, obviously we need to have a consensus as to the level of enforcement, the level of resources devoted to this problem but I would quibble with your term that we permit that number of illegal aliens to come in our country. We do not.

It is a very dangerous business, as evidenced by a number of deaths, the arrests, the apprehensions that are made, so it is not a difficult effort even though in a free society we can not have a perfect system along our border protections. We do have a good strategy that enhances our protection both in containers as well as our border security. We're going to build on that and make it better.

DOBBS: And we applaud you for the efforts that you've taken to this point. Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security, we thank you for being with us.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you.


HOPKINS: When we return, patrolling America's borders, the man responsible for keeping illegal immigrants and terrorists out of the country. Michael Garcia of the Bureau of Immigration will be here.

And later, another threat to this nation's safety, our series of special reports on emerging diseases. We'll talk to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson about what's being done.

We'll be back in a moment.


HOPKINS: Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are crossing our borders every year despite all the efforts to stop them. Now, some lawmakers want to categorize some of these illegal aliens as guest workers.

Casey Wian has the story.


WIAN (voice-over): For hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants each year, the lure of a job picking grapes, washing dishes, mowing lawns, or tending children is so great they're willing to risk their life savings, sometimes their very lives crossing the U.S. border, and for nearly as many American farmers, restaurant owners and families that cheap labor is too tempting to pass up.

No matter how hard the Border Patrol cracks down on illegal immigration, labor supply and demand find ways to meet so a growing number of lawmakers want to legalize the process.

ROSS DEVOL, ECONOMIST, MILKEN INSTITUTE: I think we have to realize that we have people coming across the borders to work in this country all the time. They're largely invisible. They don't pay taxes. They don't cover their healthcare costs.

If we develop a system that makes them legal we can get them for the most part out of the underground economy and actually contributing to the tax base and therefore covering some of their health care costs.

WIAN: Los Angeles County alone spends about a half billion dollars a year jailing and providing health care for illegal immigrants, so County Mayor Michael Antonovich is proposing a guest worker program. It would grant temporary work permits to immigrants as long as they or their employer posts a bond to cover potential health care costs.

MAYOR MICHAEL ANTONOVICH, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: It's important that we return to a form of law where it's fairly adjudicated with due process and not allow the anarchy that illegal immigration has created to persist. WIAN: Several national lawmakers also have proposed guest worker programs. Besides legalizing the cross border flow of labor, it would give more rights to immigrants who are mistreated. Opponents say the opposite is true.

MARC GROSSMAN, UNITED FARM WORKERS OF AMERICA: Every guest worker is tied to a single employer and when that employer says the job is over or the guest worker complains about mistreatment or abuse, the worker is immediately deported and there's nothing the worker can do about it but at least an undocumented worker, if he or she is treated unfairly can walk away and go get another job.

WIAN: Some guest worker proposals are tied to a wider amnesty plan for the eight million illegal immigrants already here or to crack downs on immigrant smuggling. The White House was discussing the issues with Mexico before 9/11 put immigration reform on hold.

Casey Wian CNN, Los Angeles.


HOPKINS: The gaps in border security that allow illegal immigrants to enter the United States raised serious questions about who else might be able to slip through undetected.

Lou Dobbs spoke with a man who has made a career of capturing and prosecuting illegal aliens and terrorists. Michael Garcia is head of Homeland Security's investigative arm. He's responsible for a broad range of issues from terrorist financing to immigration fraud. Lou began by asking Mr. Garcia about the threat of terrorists entering the country.


MICHAEL GARCIA, BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Any time you have a vulnerability at the border and it could be a vulnerability used to smuggle contraband, to smuggle aliens, you have something that could be exploited by terrorists or others seeking to do harm to our national security. We look at our vulnerabilities at the border in that way.

LOU DOBBS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" HOST: And, a great deal has been done since September 11 but to see the number of arrests, as we reported, rising, the number of people crossing the border up ten percent in just the past eight months why is that occurring in your judgment?

GARCIA: I think a number of factors. It's a difficult number looking at arrests. It could be part of that is due to increased enforcement, a larger presence on the border, better use of technology at the border, resulting in more people being apprehended, not necessarily in more people attempting to cross the border.

DOBBS: Your agency involved in intelligence as well as enforcement and investigation is it your sense that you are being more effective in dismantling illegal alien smuggling operations or are they growing as quickly as you can, if you will, bust them?

GARCIA: No, I think clearly we've been more effective and the case in point is the Victoria smuggling case, tragic case, involving 19 people found dead in the back of a tractor trailer down in Texas.

We're a new agency. We're approaching these alien smuggling cases with the new tools that you mentioned that we inherited from Customs, from Immigration. In that case we brought down financial experts.

We brought down investigative support assets from Customs, air and Marine division that was formerly in the U.S. Customs Service, and our alien smuggling agents, very successful investigation, 12 people in custody very short period of time, including the ringleader that was recently lured back from Honduras.

I think that we have to look at these cases in that way, look at them as organized crime, approach them aggressively as organized crime entities and then bring every tool that we have in our arsenal as well as Customs, Immigration, Air and Marine Service, bring it to bear on these organizations and dismantle them, and I think we were very successful in Victoria and I think we will use that as a model going forward on how we approach this old problem with the new tools we have.

DOBBS: Would it be helpful to homeland security, to your agency, to the Border Patrol, to Customs, if because we are in a war against terror there was simply a national policy on how we're going to deal with the issue of illegal immigration into this country?

GARCIA: Well, there's policy. There are laws. There are regulations. We're charged with enforcing them. I think what's the most helpful thing that we can have is a clear-cut enforcement strategy.

We work closely with CBP, with other components in homeland security, and the way we're going to get at the problem, as I said before, bring the new tools to bear on the problem, bring the advantages we have from this organization, Homeland Security, to bear, enforce the law in a meaningful way prioritizing our assets where we see the greatest vulnerabilities.

DOBBS: You know that is a wonderful spirit for one who is responsible for much of this enforcement to take and to espouse but the fact is 700,000 illegal aliens crossed into this country last year, an estimated 700,000 I should say, those estimates are the government's.

We are in a situation in which business interests are sponsoring in many cases those people. They are employing them in not only citrus groves but in urban centers throughout the country, individuals, are you not going to have to attack those interests as well to be effective?

GARCIA: Clearly so and there has been a historical program of it was called worksite enforcement. It's gone through a number of permutations. Our main focus in terms of worksite now is on employers who place their workers in dangerous conditions, who are abusive to their workers. It's clearly a resource issue. You cited some of the numbers that have been set out. We have limited resources. We attack the problem that way.

We attack it by looking at critical infrastructure, tarmac operations, airport facilities, nuclear power plants. Where can we do worksite enforcement where it will make the greatest difference for national security? I think you have to be realistic in looking at the problem and realistic in looking at what are the resources we have and how do we use them?

DOBBS: Well, one of the propositions that has been put forward variously is with the amount of manpower that could be brought to bear. Why not with U.S. troops stationed and involved in 100 countries around the globe, why not use U.S. military forces to make a border secure if that is indeed the will of this administration, this Congress, and the U.S. government?

GARCIA: Clearly using military at the border raises certain issues. There has been some involvement with the National Guard in building some of the fences that you showed I think earlier in your clips down by San Ysidro.

DOBBS: Right.

GARCIA: I believe that the best way for us to patrol the border and enforce the law down there is to have fully staffed Border Patrol inspectors at the border backed up by a robust interior enforcement group.

DOBBS: Michael Garcia, we thank you very much for being with us.

GARCIA: Thank you very much, Lou.


HOPKINS: Still to come our "Thought of the Day" on what we're celebrating today, our independence.

And then, in our series of special reports on Border Patrol, throwing the book at students who are in the country illegally, Louise Schiavone with that story.

And later, emerging diseases, how this young girl contracted one of the latest unknown diseases to come to the country, Kitty Pilgrim reports on monkeypox.


HOPKINS: As part of the effort to secure the nation's borders, federal agents are cracking down on foreign student visas tracking down students who are in this country illegally. New technology is helping universities and law enforcement keep tabs on foreign students.

Louise Schiavone has the report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the new school year begins this fall, roughly a million foreign nationals will be registered in the United States on student visas but the formerly easy-going atmosphere for visiting students has changed dramatically.

SIU KI CHEN, STUDENT: And last year I went back to my home country and when I came back it's a little bit more complicated. I was wondering if they would think me, am I a terrorist or something like that and, yes, that's when I worry.

SCHIAVONE: Three of the September 11th hijackers were in the U.S. on student visas, one never attended classes, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service issued the student visa paperwork for two others, including ringleader Mohamed Atta six months after the attack.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was stunned and not happy. Let me put it another way. I was plenty hot.

SCHIAVONE: And that helped lead to a $37 million computerized identification system, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System or SEVIS. It tracks the immigration status, address, and coursework of foreign students across the country and picks up whether or not a student cuts classes.

JILL DRURY, SEVIS PROGRAM DIRECTOR: We have a mechanism to identify this and the immigration and customs enforcement agents can then make a determination as to whether or not this warrants a follow- up law enforcement action.

SCHIAVONE: SEVIS does not track present of past membership in student or political organizations.

HORTENSE HINTON, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: I don't think the SEVIS system would prevent anybody from doing anything. If I wanted to come here and get an F-1 visa and engage in something else I could go to class and do that and BCIS would never know the difference because in the system I'm fine.

SCHIAVONE: The information feeds back to homeland security offices. More than 7,000 academic institutions, including vocational training schools, participate in SEVIS even as many fear that this program sends an unwelcoming message to their foreign students.

(on camera): While the SEVIS system sends up a red flag when a student visa expires, a student drops below full time enrollment or doesn't show up at school to register, the nagging question remains how sound is this safety net?

Louise Schiavone for CNN Financial News, Washington.


HOPKINS: Still ahead tonight, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says that if left unchecked today's emerging diseases could become the endemic diseases of tomorrow. Secretary Thompson joins us next.

And then, the spread of deadly diseases and the search for cures. Bill Tucker takes a look tonight at the resurgence of West Nile in our series "Emerging Diseases."


HOPKINS: There's another threat to this nation, emerging diseases. It seems as if every week there is a new threat to our well being.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says that infectious diseases are the third leading cause of death in this country. Tonight, we'll speak with Secretary Thompson and other leading experts on where those diseases come from and what can be done to contain them?

But first, a look at some of the most recent threats and what they have in common.


HOPKINS (voice-over): The mask of SARS, the scar of monkeypox, the bite of West Nile virus all of these diseases have a connection to animals. It's the pet prairie dog for monkeypox. It may be an exotic animal at a Chinese market that first spread SARS, and it's the mosquito for West Nile. Researchers say of the 30 new emerging infectious diseases, three-quarters come from animals. So did the AIDS virus.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: HIV/AIDS itself is a disease, a viral disease that jumps species from an animal, a chimpanzee to human and it was the humans going into the jungle slaughtering animals for food that ultimately put them into contact with the virus that causes HIV.

HOPKINS: Animals and mankind are living closer together making the transfer of disease easier. For example, the sprawling suburbs of New York are putting deer, mice, ticks, and people together, and the result is Lyme Disease.

In addition, we are traveling to more exotic places in the world and bringing our diseases to animals.

CHARLES SAPERSTEIN, TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE: Primates are our nearest cousins. Very susceptible to many of the same diseases that we have. And there's big concern about people going on tours in Africa and transmitting human influenza or human tuberculosis to primates, to non-human primates.

HOPKINS: Gorillas in Africa have picked up intestinal diseases from tourists, and those tourists coming back home from an exotic place may be carrying exotic diseases on the plane. Experts say there is no way to totally close our borders to keep disease out. MARY PEARL, PRESIDENT, WILDLIFE TRUST: There's no border guard in the world who is going to recognize a small microbe in an asymptomatic person. Travel is so fast around the world that someone can be carrying a virus but not showing symptoms and arrive at a new city in no time at all.

HOPKINS: Scientists like these at Columbia University examine the DNA of animals. Information they find can help determine which animals carry some of these emerging infectious disease. And according to some, there will be more to look for.

PEARL: It's, in my opinion, almost inevitable that new viruses will emerge that will be as deadly as some of the scariest diseases like Ebola and will be as contagious as SARS.

And so I think that my biggest fear is not any of the diseases that have come so far but ones that may emerge in the future.

HOPKINS: Scientists say there is really no way to completely eliminate risk from our lives. Like the threat of terrorism, this can be an invisible enemy.


One of the most recent threats to emerge is from Monkeypox. The disease is carried by an animal that many families keep as a house pet.

Kitty Pilgrim looks at the origin and the spread of Monkeypox through one of its youngest victims.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started innocently enough. Three-year-old Cheyenne Kautzer got two prairie dogs from a 4-H Club swap meet in Wisconsin.

But one of the prairie dogs bit the child. And she became the first person in this country to be confirmed with Monkeypox.

TAMMY KAUTZER, MOTHER: Her eye was almost completely swollen. She had bumps on her body. Her glands were sticking out of her neck where you could actually see them. For the first three days I was scared. I didn't know whether she was going to make it.

PILGRIM: Both her mother and father also came down with the disease. The prairie dog died. And the second prairie dog also became ill.

The Marshfield Clinic in central Wisconsin was frantic to find what caused the sickness. They knew it came from the animal, but realized it could also be spread person to person.

DR. KURT REED, MARSHFIELD CLINIC RESEARCH FOUNDATION: We really couldn't find anything. And so we wondered, are we dealing with a virus from North America that just hasn't been previously reported or characterized? At that point we had no knowledge about exposure to animals from western Africa.

PILGRIM: That is exactly what they had. Monkeypox is a West African disease, never before seen in the western hemisphere. Originally found in monkeys, it's related to smallpox and passes from animal to animal or animal to human.

The prairie dogs have been traced to an Illinois pet shop and are thought to have been infected by an African Gambian giant rat.

Dr. Byron Delinovar is an exotic pet veterinarian. He says the mass wholesale of exotic animals is a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's when they go through those distributors or those wholesalers that they come in contact with more exotic species like the Gambian rat, things from outside this country, and then act as a vector to then transmit it to humans or other animals.

PILGRIM: Some experts worry that the country's borders are too open for animals with infectious diseases and consumers overlook the diseases exotic animals can carry.

JEFF BENDER, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Thousands upon thousands of animals actually cross our borders through our ports of quarantine. If there's a take-home message that I'd like to get out, is that there are some, you know, pets that are more appropriate than others. And there are some pets that -- or some animals that really don't make good pets.

PILGRIM: Cheyenne, by the way, has recovered and now has a new puppy.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN, New York.


HOPKINS: Recently, Lou Dobbs spoke with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. He asked the secretary about how we can prevent a disaster. Secretary Thompson had a sobering response.


TOMMY THOMPSON, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I think when you look at the fact that these microbes, these new viruses are mutating, you know, on a regular basis, so it's impossible to get ahead of them completely.

Secondly, a lot of these viruses are becoming very drug- resistant.

And third, you know how much we travel around the world. We're going to pick up things and bring them back into our country.

What we have to be able to do is respond much more quickly and better than we ever have before. And that's why CDC and NIH are such an effective tools in order to improve the public health awareness. And of course, our alert as regards to terrorism has really helped to improve our public health system.

So we're doing a great job as far as responding, but in order to prevent it, it's almost impossible, Lou.

DOBBS: The human toll is tragic. The economic costs in the case of China, estimates run as high as a 2 percent reduction in their gross domestic product as a result of SARS.

Is it again, in your best assessment, is the China cooperation, communication with China, now much improved? Is that behind us?

THOMPSON: Well, I think that the communication has improved considerably. There's no question about that.

I've talked to the minister of health on several different occasions, met with her privately when we were in Geneva. She pledged China was not going to ever do this again.

But the truth of the matter is that, you know, it's a totalitarian society and if they feel that it's important to keep it from us they will do so. Hopefully, they will not do so in the future. And I think the fact that SARS hurt them so badly economically, that they're going to be very gun-shy in preventing us from getting the information that we request in the future. But only time will tell, Lou.

DOBBS: The SARS virus, it appears that we have escaped the most dreaded aspect of that disease. In point of fact, no deaths from the disease reported in this country.

Monkeypox suddenly emerging in the Midwest and more cases...

THOMPSON: My home state, Lou.

DOBBS: Indeed. Fortunately, no deaths reported to this point.

The West Nile Virus, however, is claiming lives, and that disease was introduced only four years ago.

Give us your best assessment as we go into the summer months, mosquito season. How do you -- what is your consideration of West Nile Virus and is enough being done to contain it, to prevent it?

THOMPSON: We certainly are expecting the worst but hoping for the best, as always.

We have done a great deal of research at both CDC and NIH, and that research is paying dividends. But right now we don't have a vaccine or a real treatment for these kind of diseases as of yet. But we're working on them, Lou. And only time will give us the opportunity to accomplish that.

But West Nile Virus, because of the tremendous amount of rain we've had, the kind of moisture that's in the fields, is going to be great fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes, we can expect that West Nile Virus is going to hit the United States pretty hard this summer. Therefore, we're encouraging everybody, when they go outside, to make sure that they use insect repellent wherever they go, to be able to use long-sleeve shirts and blouses when they're out in the woods, and making sure that they are not around areas where insects and especially mosquitoes are.

And we're encouraging cities and giving quite a bit of money to communities in order to eradicate the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which is the best way to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus.

DOBBS: Secretary Thompson, we thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

THOMPSON: It's my privilege. Thank you, Lou.


DOBBS: Still to come, our series on emerging diseases continues with a look at how one hospital was able to contain the spread of SARS in this country. Peter Viles will have that report.

And later, we'll be talking about one of the deadliest emerging diseases of all. Ebola. Louise Schiavone will report on this deadly virus coming up.


HOPKINS: We continue now with our special report on emerging diseases and their threat to this country.

SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, has now killed more than 800 people and infected more than 8,000 around the world. Today no one in this country has died of the SARS virus, in part because of the quick actions of health care workers.

Peter Viles, now, on how health care workers in Pennsylvania spotted the disease this spring and acted very quickly to contain it.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): April 14, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a middle-aged man walks into the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Now, he doesn't know it, and the nurses don't know it, but at that moment he brings a deadly infectious disease into the hospital.

(on camera) Now, the reason that you probably haven't heard about this SARS case in Pennsylvania is that no one died and no one was infected. Because health care workers in this emergency room, in this hospital, even though they had never seen this virus before, were prepared for it, and they made the right decisions.

(voice-over): The first smart decision, get the man away from other patients.

Chris Lewis runs the emergency room. CHRIS LEWIS, EMERGENCY SERVICES, LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL: He just -- you know, he just was really sick-looking, and that is what I remember saying to the nurse as I -- because I don't usually get involved in patient care, I just helped get him get to a bed -- and I just turned to the nurse and said, "Boy, he just really looks sick."

VILES: It wasn't obviously a case of SARS. Two doctors had already told the man he did not have SARS. He had tested negative for pneumonia, had not traveled to Asia, but he was short of breath and he had recently been to Toronto.

So nurses and doctors at the hospital used common sense.

LEWIS: The physician came in and kind of said, you know, this is a little more suspicious than we really would have thought. Let's get him to an isolation room.

VILES: The next smart decision: no visitors, and anyone who goes near the patient needs full protection, gown, mask, goggles, and gloves.

Debra Wilson was the head nurse.

DEBRA WILSON, HEAD NURSE, LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL: When everyone entered the room, they had gown, gloves, mask, and goggles. So all he saw was their eyes mostly.

VILES: The patient, whose identity has not been released, recovered in a week. Dr. Tong Le treated him.

DR. THONG LE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: If you can take a step back and think of the possibilities, this could potentially be a disastrous case for us. We could potentially have admitted this gentleman to the floor unprotected, no isolations, infect multiple people on the way.

VILE: SARS has not killed in the United States, but the disease is alive, and it crosses borders very easily.

The Bethlehem case began in Hong Kong. A Canadian man was infected at a hotel there, flew home to Toronto, then in the hospital, passed the virus to an elderly man, who in turn passed it to the Pennsylvania man at a religious retreat.

That man drove back into the United States carrying the virus.

Dr. Luther Rhodes has been studying infectious diseases for three decades at Lehigh Valley, and despite the success there, he believes a deadly outbreak in this country is probable.

DR. LUTHER RHODES, LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL: It's an almost certain occurrence. First of all, we've had SARS. We will have SARS. SARS is not going to disappear.

VILES: The spread of SARS has slowed dramatically. But officials in Asia are bracing for the disease to reassert itself in the fall.

Peter Viles, CNN, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


HOPKINS: The wet weather that drenched much of the country this spring has some health care providers warning of an increased threat from insect-borne diseases.

Among the most deadly is the West Nile Virus. More than 4,000 Americans were infected last year; 284 of those people died.

Bill Tucker takes a look at what's expected this year.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring rains bring flowers. They also bring breeding grounds for mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.

This is one of the faces of West Nile, the mayor of Morton Grove, Illinois, now wheelchair-bound, his wife of 52 years dead, all because of West Nile.

MAYOR DAN SCANLON, WEST NILE VIRUS VICTIM: I was on top of the world, running a beautiful village, had a gorgeous wife, wonderful family, everything on top of the world. And the next day when I wake up, I'm paralyzed, my wife is dead.

TUCKER: West Nile has now been found in 140 species of birds and 20 species of domestic animals in 44 states, plus the District of Columbia. This year outbreaks have already been reported in 19 states.

West Nile was first seen in the United States in 1999, and in its first three years, relatively few people were made sick or died from the disease. Last year the numbers exploded, bringing the total number of sick to over 4,300, over 300 of whom died.

So far this year no human cases have been reported.

RICHARD FALCO, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: What we're learning now is that the world is a lot smaller place than it used to be. Diseases that we used to read about occurring on the other side of the world, you know, within a day can make it here.

TUCKER: West Nile Virus was first documented in the United States four years ago at the Bronx Zoo by Dr. Tracey McNamara. She and her team of pathologists noticed a lot of dead crows and dying birds in the zoo population.

TRACEY MCNAMARA, VETERINARY PATHOLOGIST: The prairie dogs, the crows, the squirrels, the sparrows, things that could fall from the sky at any time at any place, telling us that something's going on.

But until we address the ability to get a diagnosis of why those animals died, real-time, with the best of technology, we will also really be relying on people as sentinels.

TUCKER: As a result Dr. McNamara helped create a network among zoos to monitor animal diseases in the zoo population.

TOM GECEWICZ, BRIDGEPORT PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT: We know the virus is here. Let's address it as the virus so we become proactive rather than reactive.

TUCKER: Gecewicz wants public officials to attack the problem, using every tool possible to prevent infection before people start getting sick.

That means killing the mosquitoes before they hatch with the use of larvicide. And it can mean spraying for them after they're hatched.

SCANLON: Don't ever say it can't happen to you. It can happen to anybody. And I know that it happened to our family and it had a devastating effect on our family.

TUCKER (on camera): Trials for the West Nile vaccine for humans get under way this summer. The vaccine so far has been proven effective in mice, monkeys, and horses. Now, if effective, it could be available to the public in three years.

Bill tucker, CNN, New York.


HOPKINS: Still ahead tonight: a report on one emerging disease that appeared in the United States over 30 years ago, and it is still a menace today. Kitty Pilgrim will report on Lyme Disease.

And many of you have written in to tell us about your experiences with emerging diseases. We'll share your e-mails next.


HOPKINS: The deadly Ebola virus is not yet 30 years old. Since its discovery in Africa there have been almost 1,700 cases around the world. And while death is not a certainty for those infected, it is a likelihood.

Louise Schiavone has that story.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's quick, gruesome, and deadly.

No one knew it existed until about 30 years ago. But now, through international travel and communications, even its name, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, conjures fear.

This Malonga Miatudila treated victims in the first outbreak of Ebola in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. DR. MALONGA MIATUDILA, TREATED EBOLA VICTIMS: You start bleeding from the eyes, mouth, nose, from every pore you can imagine, even through the skin. And then three, four days later you are dead. You're dead.

SCHIAVONE: The virus attacks the blood's ability to coagulate. Headache, cramping, and vomiting are unrelenting. Transmission is through bodily fluids, easily passed to family caregivers.

MIATUDILA: You die because you love somebody.

SCHIAVONE: Doctors in biohazard suits, strictly enforcing sterile health care practices and quarantine, have responded to that and several similar outbreaks in central Africa.

To date it's claimed over 1,000 victims. But Ebola is not restricted to Africa.

In the movie "Outbreak," a killer disease enters the U.S. through an infected monkey. And that's exactly what happened in real life.

DR. TOM KSIASEK, CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL: When it popped up, first of all, we were quite surprised that it was Ebola virus, because it was isolated from the tissues of a monkey in Reston, Virginia.

SCHIAVONE: In 1989 and 1990 laboratory primates imported from the Philippines were diagnosed with a strain of the virus dubbed Ebola Reston after a research facility in Reston, Virginia. Several monkeys died.

Blood tests revealed that four scientists were infected, although none ever suffered symptoms.

A similar outbreak followed in Alice, Texas. Army scientists and the CDC both responded. To this day, no one knows the ultimate source of the virus.

KSIASEK: A couple of the more recent outbreaks have had primates as the source for human infection, but we also don't believe that primates are probably the reservoir...

SCHIAVONE (on camera): So far treatment of Ebola has been reactive, isolating and treating patients, and results have been spotty.

But here at the National Institutes of Health, scientists are working to prevent outbreaks from occurring to begin with.

(voice-over) Researchers have had great success with an Ebola vaccine for primates. Next step is human trials, all the while racing the threat of another outbreak or even bioterrorism.

DR. GARY NABEL, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: None of us knows what -- what lurks in the minds of some of the very evil people who do these kinds of things. But if we have it within our power to safeguard ourselves against those sorts of attacks, then by all means, we should do it.

SCHIAVONE: An effective vaccine could not only save lines on the front lines in central Africa but also give Americans peace of mind at home.

Louise Schiavone for CNN financial news, Washington.


HOPKINS: Lyme Disease is another threat to Americans. The CDC reports more than 145,000 cases over the past two decades. On average, 18,000 people are infected with Lyme Disease each year. That number jumped dramatically last year to 22,000.

Misdiagnosis of Lyme Disease continues to be a critical public health problem, as Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Polly Murray is not a woman to give up. Living in Lyme, Connecticut, in the early 1970s, she started developing rashes, fevers, and joint pain.

POLLY MURRAY, LYME DISEASE VICTIM: I think doctors, you know, would see me coming and they'd say, "Oh, she's just determined to diagnose a disease that probably just doesn't exist excepting in her own mind. I was -- you know, kind of a hypochondriac.

PILGRIM: Her husband and every one of her children came down with similar symptoms. She didn't give up. Talking to the press, looking through medical manuals on her own.

MURRAY: When you live with it and when you have people sick around you and hobbling around, you see it from a different perspective. And I just kept pursuing it with any doctor that would listen.

PILGRIM: The state health department finally did, looking into a report of the disease in 1975.

The disease is carried by ticks, living in the deep underbrush. The ticks are carried by deer into suburban areas, where they can be found easily in the carefully manicured lawns.

Dr. Robert Nadelman is an infectious disease expert.

DR. ROBERT NADELMAN, WESTCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER: It's the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. And it's so common that even people who are very familiar with how to prevent Lyme Disease, and who live in areas where there's Lyme Disease can get it.

PILGRIM: Doctors tell people to cover up when walking through the high grass or underbrush and to check for ticks every day in the summer.

But the real problem is eradicating the cause. Deer control generates heated debate in many communities. The deer population has climbed from 500,000 in 1900 to 30 million today.

Dr. Durland Fish researches Lyme Disease prevention methods at Yale university.

DURLAND FISH, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, if nothing's done, I think there's going to be more and more cases of human illness due to the -- due to tick population. As the ticks spread into more areas, I think the situation's only going to get worse.

PILGRIM: Polly Murray agrees. She still gets tick bites about once every summer, but she still lives in Lyme.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN, New York.


HOPKINS: When we return, an overwhelming response from viewers to our series on emerging diseases and border patrol. We'll share some of your thoughts on Lyme Disease, illegal immigration, and more when we return.


HOPKINS: Many of you wrote in on our series on emerging diseases, and Lyme Disease seemed to strike a chord among our viewers.

Jeff Aman of New York wrote in to say, "After decades of Lyme Disease in the New England area there is still no effective diagnostic test. I appreciate your help in educating the public."

Carol Lopez of Delaware wrote, "As someone who suffers chronic Lyme and as the mother of a child who recently contracted Lyme... it is so important to get the word out that this disease is far more common than most people realize. It is imperative that more research be done to diagnose and treat Lyme Disease."

On our special report on border patrol, Michael Mattock wrote in about migrant workers: "I am from another country and love this country with all my heart. Americans, including myself, as I am a nationalized citizen, would not go out in the fields and pick all our crops, like they do, so let them come over."

And Al Parent wrote, "Free trade is an oxymoron. The price we pay for so-called free trade is not only a loss of jobs but also our sovereignty and our national security."

We love hearing from you. You can send us an e-mail at

That's our show for tonight. Thanks for joining us. Monday we'll be joined by the editors of the nation's top business magazines for our editors' circle.

For all of us here, good night from New York and enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.