[DEBATE] : (Fwd) More on Nafta flu
dhenwood at panix.com
Mon May 4 13:42:19 BST 2009
On May 4, 2009, at 8:24 AM, Patrick Bond wrote:
> Blame NAFTA for swine flu, experts say
Nice story, except that it may not be true.
Financial Times - May 2, 2009
Swine flu ground zero yields no clues
By Adam Thomson
Until a month ago, the village of La Gloria in the cactus-filled hills
of Mexico's Sierra Madre, was like any other neglected community: life
was quiet, even tedious, and the biggest concern was how the harsh
climate would affect the bean harvest.
But since Monday, when Mexico's health minister told the world that
the community of 3,000 was home to the earliest known case of swine
flu, things have taken a startling turn. Days are now filled with
visits by politicians, health officials and international camera
crews. This week, even the state beauty queen rolled into town to hand
out presents for the children.
As the virus sweeps the globe - the World Health Organisation said
yesterday that the number of confirmed cases had risen from 257 to 331
affecting 11 countries - La Gloria is acquiring renown as swine flu's
In late March, residents began to complain of flu-like symptoms -
headache, coughing, fever and even diarrhoea and vomiting. "It was
terrible," says farmer Enrique Reyes. "Everyone was getting sick. It
felt like the plague."
Edgar Hernández, aged five, became the first Mexican to test positive
for the A/H1N1 virus when samples were sent to the US and Can-ada last
month, yet he re-mains the only villager to have tested positive. Many
of La Gloria's residents say that local pig farms are to blame for the
virus's mysterious appearance. Granjas Carroll, a breeder 50 per cent-
owned by US-based Smithfield, has 77 pig-breeding and rearing units in
the region that produce about 1m animals a year, or 10 per cent of
Mexico's pork consumption.
Residents complain the plant produces a persistent stench and fly
infestation. "The sickness is in the air. We breathe it every day,"
says one resident. But agricultural in-spec-tion officials say there
is no swine flu virus among these pigs.
Farm number 11-38, five miles from La Gloria and the nearest pig-
rearing unit to the village, looks like a well-maintained prison.
About 16,000 pigs live in nine barns bounded by wire fencing.
All of them are healthy and have been subjected to a rigorous
programme of vaccination, says Roxana Mendoza, Granjas Carroll's head
veterinary surgeon. A visiting inspector from the agriculture ministry
told the Financial Times: "We're happy with what we've seen."
So how did Edgar, who is now fully recovered and busy wrestling with
his younger brother, contract the virus? Some of La Gloria's residents
say the community has a high rate of migration, which could have
brought the virus from elsewhere.
But Maria del Carmen Hernández, Edgar's mother, says none of the
family left the village in the days before her son's illness, and that
no one from outsidecame to visit.
"We were just here," she insists. "I don't know where the virus came
from, and I don't think anyone else does, either."
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