While temporary visitors do not undergo medical examinations, applicants for more permanent visas need to be up-to-date on vaccines and be free of certain communicable diseases. A recent CDC rule change shortens that list by three entries, leaving diseases like leprosy and gonorrhea. Above: a doctor inspects the medical records of a patient in Chantilly, Virginia, July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control has approved a rule change that trims the list of communicable disease of public health significance that prevents immigrants from gaining permanent entry the country. Immigrants with chancroid, donovanosis and lymphogranuloma venereum can now enter the U.S. and treat the bacterial infections instead of being denied a visa. Wait, lymphogranuloma what? According to the CDC, the three sexually transmitted diseases are exceedingly rare disease in the U.S. and abroad. They are all bacterial infections spread by sexual contact, and all treatable with antibiotics.

“Potential for onward transmission of these infections to the U.S. population is deemed to be extremely low,” the CDC announced in the Federal Register. “New infections can be effectively treated and cured with a short, uncomplicated course of antibiotic therapy.”

Opponents of Obama’s immigration programs disagreed with the rule change. The Center for Immigration Studies viewed the rule change as an extension of a 2009 policy removing HIV from the list. CIS legal policy analyst Jon Feere concluded that “In the least, the 2009 and 2016 changes will reduce the ability of our immigration system to protect Americans from communicable diseases.”

According to the CDC, the diseases removed from the lists are extremely rare, and not worth staff time during routine immigrant medical exams.

“Of the three conditions, only laboratory-diagnosed cases of chancroid are reportable in the United States, and since 2005 fewer than 30 chancroid cases annually were reported to CDC from the U.S. states and territories,” the agency wrote.

Right-wing bloggers and news outlets citing CIS disagreed. One blogger writing for the American Thinker unspooled rhetorical red yarn across a poster board of fearmongering, connecting the rule change to immigrant workers, the food service industry, contaminated Chipotle and Barack Obama’s “quest to dilute what little is left of American culture.”

Infections still on the CDC list include Hansen's disease (leprosy), gonorrhea and syphilis. If diagnosed with these infections, immigrant applicants are not allowed to enter the U.S., but can be made admissible after receiving treatment.

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