Communicable Disease Testing
Testing for Communicable Diseases in the Immigration Physical
Part of the immigration medical examination process involves testing for
certain communicable diseases of public health significance. If a foreign
national tests positive for any of these diseases, he or she may fail
their medical examination, rendering them inadmissible for adjustment
Some of the communicable diseases of public health significance included
in the testing portion of immigration physicals
- Leprosy / Hansen’s disease
There are two disease categories. Quarantinable diseases are those conditions
designated by a Presidential Executive Order. This includes cholera, infections
tuberculosis, plague, yellow fever, smallpox, diphtheria, pandemic flu,
viral hemorrhagic fevers, and severe acute respiratory syndromes. The
second group are events reportable under the category of “public
health emergencies of international concern” (PHEIC) to the World
Health Organization (WHO), as regulated by the International Health Regulations
(IHR) of 2005. This list currently includes smallpox, SARS, influenza,
Tuberculosis Screening (PPD)
One of the tests for communicable diseases is called a purified protein
derivative (PPD) skin test. This test shows whether or not the patient
has tuberculosis, an infection that most often affects the lungs and is
spread through airborne contact with the breath of an infected individual.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis or “TB”
is the second leading cause of death worldwide, behind HIV and AIDS. The
disease is becoming increasingly rare in the United States.
Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) Test
The rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test is used to screen for syphilis. Syphilis
is a potentially fatal sexually transmitted infection (STI). The RPR test
works by locating antibodies produced in your body to fight antibodies.
If untreated, syphilis can cause death. The RPR test uses a sample obtained
using a blood test called a venipuncture, drawing blood from the arm.