An enlightening article from thestar.com.my, regarding the initial outbreak of influenza A(H1N1) in Mexico.
Noted that it first appeared in a commercial pig farming community in a little Mexican village named La Gloria.
A little village of 3,000 inhabitants, but with 72 farms partially owned by US-based Smithfield Foods, Inc. – the largest producer of pork in the world!
And to this day, the first boy diagnosed with the virus, Édgar Hernández is still alive and kicking.
So it’s got to do with pig right? Read more…
Sunday August 16, 2009
First A (H1N1) victim seen as symbol of hope
By JOSEPH LOH
AS EARLY as February this year, the inhabitants of a little Mexican village by the name of La Gloria started having influenza-like illnesses (ILI) – it was estimated that more than half of La Gloria’s 3,000 residents fell ill throughout the next few months.
According to US-based bio-surveillance firm, Veratect, Mexican authorities only began to take notice of the outbreak on April 6 after more than 400 residents sought medical care for ILI.
The residents who were worse-off than others were diagnosed with acute respiratory infections and given antibiotics and masks. For reasons undetermined, Mexican health officials downplayed the outbreak, and said it was a widespread infection of the regular flu.
Five-year-old resident Édgar Hernández holds the dubious honour of being the world’s first confirmed case of A (H1N1) infection. He came down with the disease on April 2, but his tests were not confirmed until much later on May 17. Interestingly, Jorge Brandy, spokesman for the state of Veracruz, says a statue of the boy will be erected in the central park of La Gloria – not to glorify the dire situation, but as a symbol of hope.
Residents of La Gloria widely believe that the disease was brought about because of surrounding commercial pig farms, and early reports said it could be due to poor farming practices at 72 farms partially owned by US-based Smithfield Foods, Inc. – the largest producer of pork in the world. The company has stated that it vaccinates its herd, and has found no signs of A (H1N1) in its herd or any of its employees in Mexico.
It was only on April 12 that the General Directorate of Epidemiology (DGE) reported the outbreak of ILI to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Coincidentally, that day marked the death of Adela María Gutiérrez Cruz, 39, in the city of San Luis Potosí, Oaxaca – which was later confirmed to be the first A (H1N1)-related fatality.
However, the new A (H1N1) viral strain had not yet been confirmed, and it was not until April 17 that the Mexican government contacted Canada’s National Microbiology Lab to test samples to determine the cause of the illness.
The hard reality hit a week later when the Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq held a press conference to announce that they had tested samples from Mexico, and confirmed them to be a novel (new) strain of A (H1N1). At the same conference, Dr David Butler Jones, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, announced that the same strain of virus was found in similar cases in the US.
The WHO followed with an announcement, and the beginnings of a global pandemic was under way.
On April 27, all schools throughout Mexico were mandated to close, but by then the country already had 26 confirmed cases, including seven deaths.