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August 10, 1994

Rescuers of Migrants Require Health Protection

JAMA. 1994;272(6):422. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520060020008

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HAITIANS CLINGING to overcrowded boats and Chinese confined to filthy ship holds in recent months have dramatized the dangers for undocumented individuals seeking US sanctuary.

But what about those aboard US ships who are called on to intercept—and often to rescue—would-be immigrants at sea?

The US Coast Guard is playing a major role in these efforts and its medical officers, like those of the other services, are aware that these US women and men in uniform can be exposed to tuberculosis, hepatitis, skin and intestinal parasites, dysentery, AIDS, and other diseases in the process.

While the risk is not considered to be great, Alan M. Steinman, MD, who is a rear admiral, and the other 55 physicians of the US Coast Guard, as well as their physician counterparts in the US Navy, Army, and Air Force, are emphasizing preventive measures that can make the danger negligible.

Military Medicine in Caribbean 

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