Health of resettled Iraqi refugees --- San Diego County, California, October 2007-September 2009

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 Dec 17;59(49):1614-8.


In recent years, Iraqi refugees have been resettling in the United States in large numbers, with approximately 28,000 arrivals during October 2007-September 2009 (federal fiscal years [FYs] 2008 and 2009). All refugees undergo a required medical examination before departure to the United States to prevent importation of communicable diseases, including active tuberculosis (TB), as prescribed by CDC Technical Instructions. CDC also recommends that refugees receive a more comprehensive medical assessment after arrival, which typically occurs within the first 90 days of arrival. To describe the health profile of resettled Iraqi refugees, post-arrival medical assessment data were reviewed for 5,100 Iraqi refugees who underwent full or partial assessments at the San Diego County refugee health clinic during FYs 2008 and 2009. Among 4,923 screened refugees aged >1 year, 692 (14.1%) had latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI); among 3,047 screened adult refugees aged >18 years, 751 (24.6%) were classified as obese; and among 2,704 screened adult refugees, 410 (15.2%) were hypertensive. Although infectious illness has been the traditional focus of refugee medical screening, a high prevalence of chronic, noninfectious conditions that could lead to serious morbidity was observed among Iraqi refugees. Public health agencies should be aware of the potentially diverse health profiles of resettling refugee groups. Medical assessment of arriving refugee populations, with timely collection and review of health data, enables early detection, treatment, and follow-up of conditions, and can help public health agencies develop and set priorities for population-specific health interventions and guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Infant
  • Iraq / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parasitic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Refugees*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*