Tests have confirmed that a 4-year-old boy contracted swine flu at least two weeks before the outbreak claimed its first life.
The case was part of a normal strain of influenza outbreak that took place in early April. The boy recovered from the illness. It’s not clear if that one case spawned the epidemic.
Granjas Carroll de Mexico, which is partly owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, is near the epicenter. The Toronto Star reports that farming company has released a statement that said: has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico.”
La Gloria’s community of 3,000 believe that their town is ground zero. More than 450 residents say that they are suffering from respiratory problems from contamination spread by pig waste at nearby breeding farms co-owned by a U.S. company.
But Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, said he knew the minute he learned about the outbreak on the news and heard a description of the symptoms: 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 Monday. “It all came from here. … The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here.”
Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, believes that the Mexican government has shown a sound based surveillance system dealing with their swine. He noted that the system had previously eliminated an unrelated disease from the country’s commercial pig population, which he said is a good indication that they also are conducting adequate reviews of pigs for swine flu.
The LA Times reports:
“We never had this type of epidemic, this type of virus in the world,” Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know how many days this will go on, because it’s the first time in the world this virus has appeared.”