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ABC Finally Discovers Disease Danger at the Border: 'Pneumonia and Influenza'

The growing threat of pneumonia, influenza and other serious diseases at the border has not been a concern for ABC. Since June 8, the network completely ignored the potentially grave threat as illegals stream into America. Yet, on Thursday, Good Morning America's Jim Avila warned, "...Some children are leaving border patrol processing centers with high fevers, flu-like symptoms and other contagious diseases." [MP3 audio here.]

Highlighting children flown from a screening center in California, Avila noted that the youths were sick with "fevers and coughing." He added, "Others had chicken pox and Coxsackie virus." Ominously, the journalist revealed, "ABC News has learned of one confirmed case and two probable cases of the H1N1 influenza strain commonly known as swine flu linked to the unaccompanied children." 

A study by the Media Research Center looked at all 133 border crisis stories from June 8 through July 15. ABC produced 26 reports and never mentioned the threat of diseases. CBS discussed it once. NBC raised the issue three times.

Many of the mentions on CBS and NBC were brief.  On July 2, CBS's John Blackstone quickly stated, "At a Murrieta City Council meeting last night, residents worry the immigrants will bring crime and disease to their community.”

On Thursday, ABC expert Doctor Richard Besser commented on children with diseases being put on planes. In an understatement, he worried, "It's very concerning that children who had pneumonia were allowed on a plane risking their health and the health of other refugee children." 

A transcript of the July 17 GMA segment is below: 

ABC Graphic: Crisis at the Border: Are Sick Children Crossing Into U.S. 

LARA SPENCER: All right George. Now to the ongoing immigration crisis on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children making their way here from Central America. Many of them not getting adequate medical screening and that is raising some serious health concerns. ABC's Jim Avila has the story. 

JIM AVILA: This morning, the flood of immigrant children streaming across the southern U.S. border is so overwhelming federal agencies admit they cannot medically screen all of them properly. According to a government memo reviewed exclusively by ABC News, some children are leaving border patrol processing centers with high fevers, flu-like symptoms and other contagious diseases. The memo says the Director of Refugee Health at HHS has identified a breakdown in the medical screening processes at the border patrol facility in Nogales, Arizona. Some children flown from that facility to a Navy base in Ventura County, California were sick, fevers and coughing. Others had chicken pox and Coxsackie virus. Three of the children so sick, hospitalized in the ICU, two of them suffering from pneumonia. 

DR. RICHARD BESSER: It's very concerning that children who had pneumonia were allowed on a plane risking their health and the health of other refugee children. 

AVILA: The lack of screening according to government sources may jeopardize the health of workers and other children at the facilities. In fact, ABC News has confirmed that just a week after the unscreened kids arrived there appeared to be a pneumonia and influenza outbreak spreading through the Ventura facility. In Texas, ABC News has learned of one confirmed case and two probable cases of the H1N1 influenza strain commonly known as swine flu linked to the unaccompanied children. It's important to note none of these diseases have spread into the communities around the facilities and sources tell ABC News the government is now adding a fit to travel screening for the children. They must pass it before being put on a plane and sent to facilities away from the border. Lara and George? 

SPENCER: All right, Jim, thank you.

— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.