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University of Oxford researchers just published a study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal that found that U.S. homeless populations have tuberculosis at a rate that is 46 times greater than that of the general human population. Bums were also found to have far higher rates of hepatitis C and HIV.

The homeless typically have high incidences of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as poor nutrition and hygiene, and these risk factors all work together to make them very susceptible to infectious diseases.

Already antibiotic-resistant strains of TB are gaining strength in these communities, and if strong measures aren’t taken now, all of humanity may soon suffer.

I have been ringing the alarm bell about this threat for years at city council meetings, but Fredericksburg, Va’s leaders aren’t ready to hear the truth. It’s easy for them to call me insane and get multiple restraining orders, but I think they’ll find it far more difficult to thwart this looming public health crisis.

Our government should immediately increase the budgets of hard-pressed animal control departments and task them with tranquilizing and examining all homeless individuals at least once a year. As a proactive measure they may even want to lace the knock-out darts with common vaccines just to make sure all of their shots are up to date.

For those homeless people found to be carriers of infectious diseases, they should be taken to local shelters and treated. But, we need to be careful. After treatment we have to be sure to release them back into the wild as quickly as possible. Otherwise extended contact with man will render them unable to survive in their native environments.