A case of chickenpox at a immigrant processing center in New Mexico has prompted officials to “quarantine lockdown” on the facility. Operations at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) facility in Artesia, NM,  where more than 600 people are being held for processing after entering the United States illegally, have been suspended.


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says arrivals and departures have been halted as they treat and vaccinate the population for Varicella (chicken pox).

Congressman Steve Pearce (NM-02) said in a recent press release: “As the FLETC facility reaches maximum capacity, I am increasingly concerned for the health and safety of the women and children at FLETC and for the local community. The virus, that has caused two residents to be put in isolation, has halted all departures,” said Pearce. “Our office communicated to DHS officials outlining our concerns with impacting local citizens, posing risks to the local community and draining limited county medical resources. Our office has called for DHS to talk to the community directly, and answer all questions and concerns about all matters at FLETC, through open town hall meetings or forums.”

FLETC officials will reportedly now use Eastern New Mexico Regional Medical Center in Roswell, instead of Artesia General Hospital, for patient care. This questionable decision by DHS is a concern for Congressman Pearce as it relates to the possible unexpected burden on local medical resources, moving patients nearly an hour away from the facility for treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It spreads easily from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox spreads in the air through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters.

The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Before the vaccine, about 4 million people would get chickenpox each year in the United States. Also, about 10,600 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died each year as a result of chickenpox. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page