Put down that drumstick!

A lot of people avoid red meat because of concerns about fat content, so they turn to chicken as a healthier alternative. But here's a disgusting little item that could get you re-thinking the health benefits of chicken. Not because of its fat content - but because it may be contaminated with dreadful human diseases.

In early November, 212 workers at a single Alabama poultry processing plant tested positive for tuberculosis. And doctors with the Alabama State Department of Public Health are still waiting on X-ray results for 165 other employees to see if they are contagious as well. Worse still, two of the poultry processing workers were found to have active TB - the airborne bacteria of which is easily spread by coughing, laughing, or even talking.

Yummy! Chicken salad, anyone?

Now if you're my age, you may be surprised to hear about an outbreak of tuberculosis, a disease that's been largely eradicated in the U.S. And that's the key phrase, my friends: eradicated in the U.S. In third-world countries like Mexico, it's still quite common. Of the 212 workers who tested positive, many were Hispanic - including the two with the active virus.

It's a well-known fact that a large proportion of the work force in the poultry industry is Hispanic. And it's also a well-known (and often denied) fact that a majority of these workers are illegal immigrants.

As illegal immigration continues to run amok thanks to business and the government turning a blind eye, tuberculosis is making a comeback in the States. Reports say that over three-quarters of the TB cases reported in California were found in foreign natives.

And what's worse: Some of my colleagues in the medical community have difficulty diagnosing TB because they're unfamiliar with the symptoms. They rarely encounter this largely extinct illness, so it's tough to recognize. (If you find your furniture scratched up, you think "cat," not "saber toothed tiger," right?)

This is a telling incident. It reveals one of the least talked about issues within the larger debate over illegal immigration.

I'll be the first one to step up and get a tear in my eye about huddle masses yearning to breathe free and live "the American Dream" in this "Land of Opportunity." But the cold fact is that the people coming to America for a better life are coming here from countries with markedly lower and even non-existent health standards. In some of these countries - Mexico included - diseases that you only read about in Victorian novels (cholera, TB, typhoid, and even plague) are daily occurrences.

Let me spell this out for you: These are people with a highly contagious disease, and they're handling your food. It's more than disgusting - it's downright dangerous. And it's the least talked about and most potentially deadly danger of illegal immigration. Public health officials are not concerned enough by this. As for me? I'm terrified. Because the most frightening part of this is that there are emerging strains of drug-resistant TB being brought into the country by illegal immigrants who, of course, bypass the health screenings regularly conducted with legal immigrants.

You can probably recall stories told to you by parents or grandparents about time spent on Ellis Island when they arrived in the U.S. Today, people consider these screenings and quarantines of new immigrants the policies of a bigoted and xenophobic country. But the truth is, the government was afraid - and rightly so - of people bringing epidemics into the country.

The poultry farms in Alabama? Well, they claim that the laws don't really allow for pre-employment screening because of HIV privacy laws. Which sounds like a convenient excuse from an industry that relies on the labor of illegal immigrants to turn a profit. Any why not? The only ones at risk are their customers - everyone in the U.S. that eats chicken.

As you know, I'm not a fan of political correctness, so I'm not afraid to tell you that I think it's high time someone in our government do something to stop illegal immigration before it brings this country to its knees - and puts us all in the hospital. Put up that border fence and keep those diseases from the third world on the other side.