Chickenpox outbreak reported at border migrant campsite and shelters

Border Report Tour

TIJUANA (Border Report) — Like the rest of the world, migrants south of the border have been worried about the COVID-19 virus, but now, concern at shelters and a large campsite is turning toward another virus: chickenpox.

In Tijuana, dozens of cases involving not only children but also adults have been reported in recent weeks.

Migrant activists believe the outbreak began at the campsite just south of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where migrants — mostly from Central America — have been living for the past four months.

The area is known as El Chaparral, and 500 children are believed to be living at this site.

Lourdes Lopez is a migrant activist in Tijuana, Baja California. (Jorge Nieto/Special to Border Report)

“When they started moving people from El Chaparral to shelters, they took people who had chickenpox and they started getting people sick over there,” said Lourdes Lopez, an activist.

Lopez says several shelters throughout the city of Tijuana are seeing chickenpox cases.

A woman named Maria, said two of her four children, including a daughter, got the virus in recent weeks.

“I noticed she had a lot of bumps, but I didn’t know it was the chicken pox,” said Maria. “I began asking around and was told it was chicken pox, she had a lot of bumps, and her head and feet hurt a lot.”

In response to the wave of cases, Baja California’s Health Secretary has begun vaccinating children at shelters and the campsite.

“There’s a lot of children that have chickenpox; my kids haven’t gotten it, I got them vaccinated,” said Ana, a migrant from Honduras.

At a shelter operated by Albert Rivera, he reported that 10-12 children at his facility have come down with chickenpox.

Health worker from state of Baja California checks in on a family living in a tent at a migrant campsite just south of the border where an outbreak of chicken pox reportedly began a few weeks ago. (Jorge Nieto/Special to Border Report)

“We try to isolate them, keep them apart,” said Rivera. “We had a 14-year-old who got it and is still suffering from intestinal problems, he’s had a lot of issues with it.”

Rivera stated the state is helping by bringing medical attention and by vaccinating many of the children at his shelter.

“We need to stay on them to come here and help us monitor the situations. We get different doctors, but, overall, the government is providing us with what we need,” he said.

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