Swine flu’s ground zero? Townspeople are convinced

By | April 29, 2009

Swine flus ground zero Townspeople are convinced

Local health officials and Federal Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova downplay claims that the swine flu epidemic could have started in La Gloria, noting that of 35 mucous samples taken from respiratory patients there, only Edgar’s came back positive.

Confirmation that the boy was infected with H1N1 — a strange new mix of pig, bird and human flu virus that has killed as many as 152 people in Mexico and now spread across the world — wasn’t made until last week, when signs of the outbreak elsewhere prompted a second look at his sample. ….

Townspeople blame their ills on pig waste from farms that lie upwind, five miles (8.5 kilometers) to the north. The toxins blow through other towns, only to get trapped by mountains in La Gloria, they say. They suspect their water and air has been contaminated by waste. …

When Associated Press journalists on Monday entered a Granjas Carroll farm that has been the focus of community complaints, the cars were sprayed with water. Victor Ochoa, the general director, required the visitors to shower and don white overalls, rubber boots, goggles and masks and step through disinfectant before entering any of the 18 warehouses where 15,000 pigs are kept.

Ochoa showed the journalists a black plastic lid that covered a swimming pool-size cement container of pig feces to prevent exposure to the outside air.

“All of our pigs have been adequately vaccinated and they are all taken care of according to current sanitation rules,” Ochoa said. “What happened in La Gloria was an unfortunate coincidence with a big and serious problem that is happening now with this new flu virus.”

Mexican Agriculture Department inspectors found no sign of swine flu among pigs around the farm in Veracruz, and say that no infected pigs have been found yet anywhere in Mexico.

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