More questions are arising about the origin of this strain of the swine flu, know known by the Bambi Administration as H1N1. This is all very curious since we know that it is a combo-pack of swine, avian and human viruses. The renaming of this flu from swine to H1N1 is not so much to protect the pork industry as it is to help people forget that this is a combination of viruses and to stop searching for the cause of such a curious bug.
News is coming out of Mexico about the possible ground zero for this bug starting with a 5 year old named Edgar Hernandez, but after reading the two reports I’ve seen, it is tracking with research I am doing for “Spanish Flu vs. Mexican Flu, Part 2”. As for those of you that read the link to Smithfield Foods, this is not going to surprise you.
From The Mail:
The five-year-old boy who is the earliest confirmed victim of swine flu so far has said he feels ‘great’.
Edgar Hernandez – who has since recovered – fell sick on April 2 – nearly two weeks before anybody even knew the virus existed.
Edgar is from the village of La Gloria, whose residents say officials ignored their warnings of an unexplained outbreak for weeks.
A staggering 60 per cent of the 3,000 residents of La Gloria – which lies in the shadow of a massive U.S-owned pig farm – reported getting sick, including three children aged under two, who later died.
Villagers say state officials and factory bosses claimed the outbreak was caused by chilly weather and dust in the air.
Although many others fell ill earlier than Edgar, none have yet been confirmed as having had swine flu. By last night, the overall death toll in Mexico stood at 152.
The youngster’s case came as more than 450 members of the community claimed they were suffering respiratory problems and symptoms similar to swine flu.
They claim they are ill from contamination spread by pig waste at nearby breeding farms partly owned by a U.S. company.
Edgar was treated in hospital and is now recovering, but two infants from the area died.
Mexico’s Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova told reporters a sample taken from a 4-year-old boy in Mexico’s Veracruz state in early April tested positive for swine flu.
However, it is not known when the boy became infected.
As far back as late March, roughly one-sixth of the members of this community of 3,000 in the Gulf coast state began suffering from severe respiratory infections.
They say they can directly trace the infections to a farm that lies upwind five miles (8.5 kilometres) to the north, in the town of Xaltepec.
But Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, said he knew the minute he heard about the outbreak on the news, with symptoms including a fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
‘When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, ‘This is what we had,” he said. ‘It all came from here. … The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here.’
Granjas Carroll de Mexico, 50 per cent owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, Inc., has eight farms in the area.
Smithfield spokeswoman Keira Ullrich said the company has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in its swine herd or its employees working at its joint ventures anywhere in Mexico.
Mexican Agriculture Department officials said yesterday that its inspectors found no sign of swine flu among pigs around the farm in Veracruz, and that no infected pigs have been found yet anywhere in Mexico.
However, the inspections may have been less than complete: Ochoa, the farm manager, said no one from the government has inspected his farm for swine flu.
But residents here say they are certain that Edgar Hernandez was not the only swine flu victim in their town.
Concepcion Llorente, a first-grade teacher in La Gloria, says authorities still owe the town some answers.
‘They said that what we had here was an atypical flu, but if the boy tested positive for swine flu, where did he get it from?’
Edgar’s mysterious case is at the center of a search in Mexico to find out how the epidemic, which has now spread to seven countries, began.
During the town’s flu outbreak, health officials tested residents and concluded they had ordinary influenza. Some of those samples were saved and sent to Mexico City. Once the outbreak of swine flu was confirmed in other parts of the country, Mexico sent the samples from La Gloria to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing. The samples came back negative, except for the one that belonged to Edgar.
And the CDC and WHO can’t seem to get their stories straight.
A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.
Vivienne Allan, from WHO’s patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths – all in Mexico – and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.
“Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that’s not information that’s come from the World Health Organisation,” Ms Allan told ABC Radio today.
“That figure is not a figure that’s come from the World Health Organisation and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico.”
Ms Allan said WHO had confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the Americas, 26 in Mexico, six in Canada, two in Spain, two in Britain and three in New Zealand.
So why would WHO be considering raising the pandemic level to 5?
WASHINGTON (AP) — Virulent swine flu spread to at least 10 U.S. states from coast to coast Wednesday and swept deeper into Europe, extending its global reach as President Barack Obama mourned the first U.S. death, a Mexican toddler who had traveled with his family to Texas. Total American cases surged to nearly 100, and Obama said wider school closings might be necessary.
The World Health Organization said the outbreak is moving closer to becoming a full-scale pandemic.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the organization’s top flu expert, told reporters in Geneva that the latest developments are moving the agency closer to raising its pandemic alert to phase 5, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission. That’s just one step below level 6, a full-fledged pandemic.
In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was questioned closely by senators about whether the U.S. should close its border with Mexico, where the outbreak apparently began and the casualties have been the greatest. She repeated the administration’s position that questioning of people at borders and ports of entry was sufficient for now and said closing borders “has not been merited by the facts.”
Dr. Richard Besser, the acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control, said in Atlanta that there are confirmed cases now in ten states, with 51 in New York, 14 in California and 16 in Texas. Two cases have been confirmed in Kansas, Massachusetts and Michigan, while a single cases have been reported in Arizona, Indiana, Nevada and Ohio.
State officials in Maine said laboratory tests had confirmed three cases in that state, although those had not yet been included in the CDC count.
In a possible outbreak north of the Mexican border, the commandant of the Marine Corps said a Marine in southern California might have the illness and 39 Marines were being confined on their California base until tests come back.
In fact, officials appeared to go out of their way on Wednesday to not call the strain “swine flu.” Obama called the bug the “H1N1 virus.”
“The disease is not a food-borne illness,” Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim science and public health deputy direct, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
She said the strain is particularly worrisome because “it’s a virus that hasn’t been around before. The general population doesn’t have immunity from it.”
People have various levels of protection against other more common types of flu because they are exposed to it over time, and that protection accumulates. She suggested that some older people might have more resistance to this particular strain than younger people because its traits might resemble outbreaks of decades ago. (How stupid do they think we are?)
Germany became the latest country to report swine flu infections. It reported four cases on Wednesday.
New Zealand’s total rose to 14. Britain had earlier reported five cases, Spain four. There were 13 cases in Canada, two in Israel and one in Austria.
Meanwhile the border is still open and Mexican nationals are coming across the border to get American health care. At this point it does not matter whether they close it or not; it did not matter once Canada reported it’s first cases. At that point, it became a wait and see game where the outbreaks in this country would show up first.
The first swine flu fatality was a Mexican census-taker who may have come into contact with at least 300 people when the virus was at its most infectious, Mexican authorities have revealed.
Maria Adela Gutierrez may be the reason the virus spread so fast – and why authorities are now preparing for the very real possibility of a global pandemic.
She was admitted to hospital 21 days ago, on April 8, with what doctors believed was pneumonia.
She died five days later of what doctors now know was swine flu, The Independent reported. But the virus would not be identified for another three weeks.
And authorities at Oaxaca’s Hospital Civil Aurelio Valdivieso did not confirm that an infectious disease had broken out there at all until April 21 – by which point another person had already died.
Ms Gutierrez’s demise may fuel controversy over Mexico’s handling of the outbreak, which has been criticised as chaotic and secretive. Authorities at Oaxaca’s Hospital Civil Aurelio Valdivieso, where she was treated, did not confirm that an infectious disease had broken out there until 21 April, by which time one further patient had also died.
Doctors initially thought Gutierrez was suffering from pneumonia. But when 16 further patients exhibited signs of severe respiratory infection, they established a quarantine area around the emergency room. Shortly afterwards, state health authorities began to track down every person she’d had recent contact with and conduct check-ups.
That discreet search suggested that Gutierrez may have unwittingly been a latter-day “Typhoid Mary”. It turned up more than 300 people, including many members of the public whom she’d interviewed as she knocked on doors in late March and early April. Local sources told Veratect, the US disease-tracking company which sounded the alarm, that between 33 and 61 of those interviewees “exhibited symptoms” of a flu-like illness, though none have died.
Oaxaca is the historic capital of Oaxaca state, a mountainous region on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast. Its location may be crucial to tracking the spread of swine flu, because it borders Veracruz, the state where the virus is believed to have first infected humans.
Edgar Hernandez, a boy who contracted the disease on 2 April and subsequently made a full recovery, was on Monday identified by Mexico’s health secretary Jose Angel Cordova as “patient zero” – the first officially identified victim of the disease. He lives in the small town of La Gloria, in Veracruz province, five miles downwind of a vast pig farm identified a potential source of the outbreak. The farm is owned by owned by Smithfield Foods, a US agribusiness corporation, whose Mexican subsidiary raises a million pigs per year.
In February, dozens of locals began falling ill from a mysterious, flu-like disease. On 6 April, authorities in La Gloria declared an “alert,” saying 400 people had required treatment and 1,800 were exhibiting respiratory problems. The town has a population of 3,000.
Public health workers sealed off the town and began exterminating huge numbers of flies that had reportedly begun swarming through homes. However, they are yet to identify this outbreak as swine flu. News teams who have descended on the town have been urged against jumping to conclusions.
But the locals aren’t convinced. Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, told reporters yesterday that he knew the disease which had infected his town was swine flu the minute he heard description of its symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhoea. “When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, ‘This is what we had,’ ” he said. “The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here.”
Let’s go back to the one fact that nobody is talking about in any of these stories: this bug is a combination of swine, avian, and human strains of influenza…the first pandemic of this nature since the Spanish Flu of 1918.