Interesting article just released... (extract below)
The article can be found here.
The Times of London interviewed the mother of 4-year-old Edgar Hernandez of La Gloria in Veracruz, the location of the giant Smithfield Foods hog production facility. Their local reporter notes, Edgar Hernández plays among the dogs and goats that roam through the streets, seemingly unaware that the swine flu he contracted a few weeks ago the first known case has almost brought his country to a standstill and put the rest of the world on alert. I feel great, the five-year-old boy said. But I had a headache and a sore throat and a fever for a while. I had to lay down in bed.
The reporters add, It was confirmed on Monday (April 27 2009-w.e.) that Edgar was the first known sufferer of swine flu, a revelation that has put La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and manure lagoons at the centre of a global race to find how this new and deadly strain of swine flu emerged. 6
Thats quite interesting. They speak of La Gloria and its surrounding factory pig farms and manure lagoons. Presumably the manure lagoons around the LaGloria factory pig farm of Smithfield Foods are the waste dumping place for the feces and urine waste from at least 950,000 pigs a year that pass through the facility. The Smithfields Mexico joint venture, Norson, states that alone they slaughter 2,300 pigs daily. Thats a lot. It gives an idea of the volumes of pig waste involved in the concentration facility at La Gloria.
Significantly, according to the Times reporters, residents of La Gloria have been complaining since March that the odour from Granjas Carrolls pig waste was causing severe respiratory infections. They held a demonstration this month at which they carried signs of pigs crossed with an X and marked with the word peligro (danger).7 There have been calls to exhume the bodies of the children who died of pneumonia so that they could be tested. The state legislature of Veracruz has demanded that Smithfields Granjas Carroll release documents about its waste-handling practices. Smithfield Foods reportedly declined to comment on the request, saying that it would not respond to rumours.8
A research compilation by Ed Harris reported, According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to flu. However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.9 That would imply that the entire Swine Flu scare might have originated from the PR spin doctors of the worlds largest industrial pig factory farm operation, Smithfield Foods.
The Vera Cruz-based newspaper La Marcha blames Smithfields Granjos Carroll for the outbreak, highlighting inadequate treatment of massive quantities of animal waste from hog production.10
Understandably the company is perhaps more than a bit uncomfortable with the sudden attention. The company, which supplies the McDonalds and Subway fast-food chains, was fined $12.3 million in the United States 1997 for violating the Clean Water Act. Perhaps they are in a remote tiny Mexican rural area enjoying a relatively lax regulatory climate where they need not worry about being cited for violations of any Clean Water Act.
Any epidemiologists amongst us here? Thoughts?