The busiest processing center for immigrants in the entire nation shut down temporarily after a flu-like illness broke out inside.
Customs and Border Protection confirmed 32 people tested positive for influenza.
CBP tells CBS 4 medical staff is working around the clock to provide everyone inside with proper medical treatment.
However, it isn’t only the immigrants falling ill.
Agents alike are feeling the strain.
“The majority of our agents are sick or have been sick in there,” said Chris Cabrera, Vice-President of the National Border Patrol Council.
Cabrera said inside of the Central Processing Center, or CPC, the agents are exposed to various illnesses and viruses.
“Every day we have guys that call in sick for real illnesses, sometimes we have 10, 15, 20 guys call in sick, because they are actually sick from being in that building, obviously we don’t close, we are 24/7 but it’s going to continue until we get a fix to this system,” Cabrera said.
Doctors said influenza is extremely contagious, especially in confined areas, much like the processing center.
“Anybody that coughs, sneezes, anybody who touches their nose, it’ll live in there,” said Erika Gomez, a local family physician, an expert on influenza A, “It’s very possible to get it if you’re in very close proximity to that person, yeah you’ll catch it.”
With immigrants falling sick and now agents, Cabrera said it’s creating a ripple affect and the biggest concern is who will get sick next?
“Some of them are sick, some of them have some type of virus or flu or cold, but it hasn’t shown up yet,” Cabrera said. “And then what ultimately happens is they got on a bus which is a confined spot, they travel to other parts of the country and that could range from strep throat, the flu and maybe tuberculosis.”
Cabrera said the agents will continue working to secure the border, whether they’re feeling well or not.