lunes, julio 20, 2009

Update on swine flu


An interesting aspect of the swine flu outbreak is how early the link was made with factory farming. This was largely the result of pressure from local residents in the village of La Gloria in the municipality of Perote, Mexico. Like other communities, in Romania (Europe) and North Carolina (USA), they have been struggling for years against the social, environmental and health impacts of the large pig farms that Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, has set up through a joint venture near their hamlets. Indeed, well before the outbreak, some leaders in La Gloria were arrested or beaten up because of their opposition.

When people were affected by a strange respiratory disease in 2008, they were convinced from the beginning that the outbreak was caused by waste coming from the farms. The community made repeated efforts to get the authorities to investigate. When the authorities finally sent a medical team to test people in the community, they found that 60 per cent of the community’s 3,000 people were affected by an undiagnosed respiratory disease. It was not until weeks later, on 27 April 2009, when the country was well into a swine flu epidemic affecting thousands of people, that the Mexican government announced that the sole sample taken from La Gloria (that of a 5-year-old boy) and sent to a laboratory with the capacity to diagnose human swine flu, had come back positive for H1N1– the first recorded case of swine flu in the country.

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