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【豚フルー感染爆発の発生源、スミスフィールド社養豚ファクトリーの容疑浮上】 「ガーディアン」「タイムズ」等の報道
http://www.asyura2.com/09/buta01/msg/152.html
投稿者 passenger 日時 2009 年 4 月 28 日 10:36:07: eZ/Nw96TErl1Y
 

【豚フルー感染爆発の発生源、スミスフィールド社の養豚ファクトリーの容疑浮上】 
 「ハッフィントン・ポスト」「ガーディアン」「タイムズ」などの報道
 
 
 
ここに紹介するのは、今朝投稿した下記の情報↓
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豚フルー感染爆発の発生源は米畜産大手スミスフィールドフーズの子会社グランハス・キャロルで、昨年末から感染が始まっていた
http://www.asyura2.com/09/buta01/msg/146.html
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↑の、フォローアップである。


日本の馬鹿農政・保健当局は、米国とメキシコ産の豚肉について
根拠もなしに「安全宣言」をホラ吹いているが、米国畜産大手の
スミスフィールド・フード社が発生源だとすると、政府の安全宣伝は
根底から崩れるぞ。
 
 

                   
                   
                       / ̄ ̄⌒γ⌒ヾ
                     / ________人   \ 
                     ノ::/━━     ヽ    ヽ   
                      |/-=・=-  ━━  \/   i
         / ̄ ̄\      /::::::ヽ―ヽ -=・=-_ ヽ   i  ぶひぶひブ〜
       /       \    |○/ 。  /:::::::::     /⌒) 
        |::::::         |    |::::人__人:::::○    ヽ )     / ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄
       |:::::::::::     |   ヽ   __ \      /    /アメリカ産の豚肉は
        .|::::::::::::::     |     \  | .::::/.|       /   <  理由なく安全でちゅ!
         |::::::::::::::    }      \ ヽ::::ノ丿      /     \________
         ヽ::::::::::::::   }     ______へ、`ニ´ .イ / / ,, -‐‐ヽ
        ヽ::::::::::  ノ     /、   |l`ー‐´ / / -‐   {
        /:::::::::: く      /  l   l |/__|// /  ̄   /
_____ |:::::::::::::::: \ /     l    l l/ |/  /       /
          |:::::::::::::::::::::::\ ̄  ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄

      豚インフルエンザに罹った
        ブタって、オマエのことだろw
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/mexican-lawmaker-factory_b_191579.html

Mexican Lawmaker: Factory Farms Are "Breeding Grounds" of Swine Flu Pandemic

David Kirby (Journalist)
Posted April 27, 2009 | 01:19 AM (EST)

Large-scale swine producers in Mexico deny that their industry is the source of the deadly new influenza strain, saying the animals are all healthy, and that it is scientifically "not possible" for hogs to infect people with the illness. But lawmakers in the eastern state of Veracruz are now charging that large-scale hog and poultry operations are "breeding grounds" of infection that are making people sick and fueling the pandemic.

On Sunday, the state government of Veracruz confirmed swine influenza in a five-year-old girl in the village of La Gloria, located near a massive US-owned hog facility. The bodies of two other village children who died in February and March will be exhumed and tested for signs of the illness, local media reports said.

And in the western state of Guerrero, 500 pigs were just killed after becoming ill with swine flu.

The nation's hog industry says it is not to blame for any human illness. "We deny completely that the influenza virus affecting Mexico originated in pigs, because it has been scientifically demonstrated that this is not possible," said a statement issued by the National Organization of Pig Production and Producers and its president, Mario Humberto Quintanilla González.

The group said it had ordered a series of lab tests and sought technical support from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and others, "in order to demonstrate, once again, that pigs are not the cause of the flu that is affecting the country. It must remain clear that the flu problem is caused neither by the proximity to swine operations nor by the consumption of pork meat or pork products."

The statement went on to say, however, that pork producers, "will respect whatever scientific determination is made as to the actual causes that have provoked this health problem."

Meanwhile, one of Mexico's largest producers, Granjas Carroll, a subsidiary of US hog giant Smithfield Foods, issued its own statement saying there was no sign of swine flu at any of its operations in the states of Veracruz and Puebla. The company's huge facility near the town of La Gloria was first mentioned as a possible source of the new human-swine flu outbreak by Tom Philpott at www.grist.org.

According to El Universal newspaper, the company reported no signs of disease in any of its 907 workers - nor in its 60,000 breeding sows or 500,000 feeder pigs, all of whom were vaccinated against swine flu. "The press release stated that that the virus was found in people who were not near swine production facilities, and who did not have contact with pigs, and therefore, 'it has been concluded that the contagion has been between humans,'" El Universal reported.

But the industry statement that this disease was not transmitted from pigs to people contradicts virtually all Mexican government statements so far, including Mexico's Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, who said the virus, "mutated from pigs, and then at some point was transmitted to humans." Whether they were Mexican pigs or not remains a mystery, of course.

As Philpott pointed out in his post, Mexican newspapers have been reporting for weeks that residents living near Granjas Carroll's massive hog facility at La Gloria are falling ill with severe upper respiratory diseases. One five-year-old girl in the village just tested positive for swine flu - the bodies of two more children who died recently are being exhumed.

According to an April 5 article in La Jornada newspaper, "Clouds of flies emanate from the lagoons where Granjas Carroll discharges the fecal waste from its hog barns - as well as air pollution that has already caused an epidemic of respiratory infections in the town."

More than 400 people had already been treated for respiratory infections, and more than 60 percent of the town's 3,000 residents had reported getting sick, the paper said. State officials disputed that claim, and said the illnesses were caused by cold weather and dust in the air.

The problems began in early March, when many neighbors of the hog CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) became sick with colds and flu that quickly turned into lung infections, causing local health officials to impose a "sanitary cordon" around the area and begin a mass program of vaccination and home fumigation.

"According to state agents of the Mexican Social Security Institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement," La Jornada reported. "Even so, state and federal authorities paid no attention to the residents, until today."

The state legislature of Veracruz has demanded that the Smithfield subsidiary turn over all documents and environmental certifications on its three massive waste lagoons, but so far, the company has only supplied information on one of them, news reports said today.

On Friday, the chairman of the state legislature's Committee on the Environment, Marco Antonio Núñez López, called on Veracruz's Secretary of Health to impose a "sanitary cordon" around all hog and poultry CAFOs in the area - as well as bus terminals and airports - to prevent the spread of influenza among the population.

He said the factory farms should be considered "breeding grounds" (focos rojos - which might also translate as "hot spots") of potential infection for the cities of Veracruz, Boca del Río, Coatzacoalcos, Córdoba, Orizaba, Xalapa and Perote.

"I asked the Secretary to inform us about what was going on in La Gloria with Granjas Carroll, because avian flu is spreading from birds to pigs, and from there to humans, and that urgent measures are needed," Núñez López told reporters.

He was referring to another CAFO, this one containing poultry, called Granjas de Bachoco, located near the state capital of Xalapa. He said there was an epidemic of avian flu among the chickens being raised there, but that this was being kept quiet so as not to interfere with exports. Influenza-infected chickens raise the risk of cross-infection to pigs in the same area, scientists say.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Mexico, about halfway between Mexico City and Acapulco in the town of Cocula, Guerrero, health officials ordered the destruction of 500 pigs infected with swine flu, local newspapers reported. One hundred of the animals fell sick at the Rancho La Joya operation and were sacrificed last Wednesday. On Thursday, 400 more infected pigs were killed.

There is no proof that this illness emerged on a Mexican hog factory farm, or in Mexico, or even in hogs. But we do know that Mexican pigs with swine flu are being destroyed. And we know that Mexican lawmakers think that CAFOs are making people sick.

And now we know that a five-year-old girl in La Gloria has swine flu. I wonder if the CDC is going to go check on her, and see how she contracted that virus.

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NOTE: For more on this subject, please see yesterday's post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/swine-flu-outbreak----nat_b_191408.html

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この記事へのコメントのひとつ

Paka74 See Profile I'm a Fan of Paka74 permalink

Mexico City was NOT the epicentre of the disease. People in La Gloria Veracruz were getting sick since last december and the first two children died in march.
60% of the population in La Gloria got sick. Now the children bodies have been buried and the government refuses to take them out and check for infection because they say there's no link between their death and the new virus. Inhabitants of La Gloria have been fighting for a long time to stop Granjas Carroll from polluting the water and contaminating the air. The response: they were harassed, imprisoned and are currently on trial. This all issue has been known for years!
Many articles were published regarding the situation in La Gloria during the last weeks but strangely, not that the new virus is out nobody mentions that anymore.
I live in Mexico and I'm outraged by this situation. What can we do to fight this giant multi-national monster called Smithfield Foods?
Please help!
Here's a link with some pictures from the pig farm in La Gloria:

http://suburbiodeimagen.blogspot.com/2009/04/contaminacion-de-granjas-carroll-de.html

Do you need any more evidence than that?

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/swine-flu-outbreak----nat_b_191408.html

Swine Flu Outbreak -- Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?

David Kirby (Journalist)
Posted April 26, 2009 | 05:17 PM (EST)

Officials from the CDC and USDA will likely arrive in Mexico soon to help investigate the deadly new influenza virus that managed to jump from pigs to people in a previously unseen mutated form that can readily spread among humans.

One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.

Industry calls these massive compounds "confined animal feeding operations," or CAFOs (KAY-fohs), though most people know them simply as "factory farms." You have seen them before while flying: Long white buildings lined up in tightly packed rows of three, four or more. Within each confinement, thousands of pigs are restricted to indoor pens and grain-fed for market, while breeding sows are kept in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing piglets.

In the last several years, U.S. hog conglomerates have opened giant swine CAFOs south of the border, including dozens around Mexico City in the neighboring states of Mexico and Puebla. Smithfield Foods also reportedly operates a huge swine facility in the State of Veracruz. Many of these CAFOs raise tens of thousands of pigs at a time. Cheaper labor costs and a desire to enter the Latin American market are drawing more industrialized agriculture to Mexico all the time, wiping out smaller, traditional farms, which now account for only a small portion of swine production in Mexico.

"Classic" swine flu virus (not the novel, mutated form in the news) is considered endemic in southern Mexico, while the region around the capital is classified as an "eradication area" - meaning the disease is present, and efforts are underway to control it. For some reason, vaccination of pigs against swine flu is prohibited in this area, and growers rely instead on depopulation and restriction of animal movement when outbreaks occur.

U.S. and Mexican epidemiologists and veterinarians will surely want to take swine samples from Mexican CAFOs and examine them for the newly discovered influenza strain (No one knows exactly how long it has been in circulation). And though it is too early to know if this new virus mutated and incubated on Mexican hog CAFOs, the industrialized facilities unquestionably belong on the list of suspects.

Pigs are nature's notorious "mixing bowls" for inter-species infections, and many swine flu viruses have long contained human influenza genetic components. Then, in the late 1990's - when industrialized swine production really took off in North America - scientists were alarmed to find that avian influenza genetic material was also mixed into the continent's viral soup (see below). Fortunately, it was not the dreaded and lethal H5N1 strain, which most people know of as "bird flu."

So where did this new, virulent and highly infectious influenza emerge from? According to Mexico's Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, the virus "mutated from pigs, and then at some point was transmitted to humans." It sure sounds like something happened on some farm, somewhere.

For years, leading scientists around the world have worried that large-scale, indoor swine "factories" would become breeding grounds for new pathogens that could more easily infect humans and then spread out rapidly in the general population - threatening to become a global pandemic.

We know that hog workers in Europe and North America are far more likely than others to be infected with potentially lethal pathogens such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), drug-resistant E. coli and Salmonella, and of course, swine influenza. Many scientists also believe that people who work inside CAFOs are more at risk of contracting and spreading these and other "zoonotic" diseases than those working in smaller-scale operations, with outdoor pens or pasture and far lower animal density.

But until now, hog workers with swine flu have rarely gone on to infect other people, save for close family members. And that is why this new strain of swine influenza virus is so vexing - and alarming. It seems to spread quite easily through casual human contact.

This new strain making headlines and killing people contains genetic components of human flu virus, avian flu virus and - for the first time ever - two types of swine flu virus: American and Eurasian. "Such a combination of components (genes) was not found so far, neither among humans nor among pigs (as far as we know)," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said in an email.

Nobody yet knows whether the mysterious mixing of two continents' swine flu genes is what made this outbreak so deadly, and so infectious among people, but you can bet that the world's best labs are already on the case. Another possibility is that a new and more aggressive strain of avian influenza got into the new mix as well.

How could this happen? There are several plausible explanations.

A New Avian Component?

Avian influenza viral components can easily mix with swine flu virus to create new bugs - and this can happen on both traditional hog farms and inside CAFOs, scientists say.

Last year, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production issued a lengthy report on factory farming that included research on emerging forms of avian-swine-human influenza viruses. The molecular forensics of rapidly mutating animal pathogens makes epidemiological investigations all the more challenging, it said. "Populations exposed to infectious agents arising in CAFOs are even more difficult to define as some agents - such as a novel avian influenza virus - may be highly transmissible in or well beyond a community setting," the Pew report stated.

The transmission of avian or swine influenza viruses to humans, the report said, (almost wistfully, in retrospect), "seems a rather infrequent event today."

But the commission also issued this grave and perhaps all-too prescient warning:

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The continual cycling of swine influenza viruses and other animal pathogens in large herds or flocks provides increased opportunity for the generation of novel viruses through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human-to-human transmission of these viruses. In addition, agricultural workers serve as a bridging population between their communities and the animals in large confinement facilities. This bridging increases the risk of novel virus generation in that human viruses may enter the herds or flocks and adapt to the animals.


Reassortant influenza viruses with human components have ravaged the modern swine industry. Such novel viruses not only put the workers and animals at risk of infections, but also potentially increase zoonotic disease transmission risk to the communities where the workers live. For instance, 64% of 63 persons exposed to humans infected with H7N7 avian influenza virus had serological evidence of H7N7 infection following the 2003 Netherlands avian influenza outbreak in poultry. Similarly, the spouses of swine workers who had no direct contact with pigs had increased odds of antibodies against swine influenza virus. Recent modeling work has shown that among communities where a large number of CAFO workers live, there is great potential for these workers to accelerate pandemic influenza virus transmission.
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"We met with a team of researchers from the University of Iowa who are studying avian flu, and their real concern was the very scenario that may have happened in Mexico - that avian flu may get into a swine CAFO and rapidly mutate and then get passed to workers, and then on to other people very quickly," Bob Martin, who was executive director of the now-disbanded commission and currently a Senior Officer at the Pew Environmental Group, told me.

"Their concern was that new strains of avian flu combining with swine flu could make the swine flu more deadly," he said. "And because viruses pass so easily between pigs and people, the new avian component could make swine flu more virulent."

Researchers such as Gregory Gray, MD, a University of Iowa professor of international epidemiology and expert in zoonotic infections, warned that CAFO workers could serve as a "bridging population" to rural communities sharing viruses with the pigs, and vice-versa. Other scientists suggested that CAFO workers could theoretically spread disease quickly to great distances. An outbreak of infectious avian flu on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, for example, could reach the Rocky Mountains within 36 hours.

The Iowa team was also worried that CAFO production could lead to another 1918-style global pandemic. One theory behind that calamity is that waterfowl cross-infected U.S. pigs with a new type of avian-swine super-virus that was quickly transmitted to farm workers, possibly in Iowa, who went off to military training camps for WWI, and then spread the pathogen worldwide

"One very big concern was that swine flu mixed with wild bird flu, or bird flu in a chicken CAFO, tended to be ripe for incubating new types of viral infections, especially since the animals are so densely packed together," Bob Martin said.

Hog CAFOs are supposed to be completely closed environments, in order to protect the pigs from outside diseases. Visitors are usually required to shower and don special protective clothing (again, for the animals' benefit) before going inside a confinement.

But these are not hermetically sealed environments, and pathogens can enter and exit a CAFO in a number of ways other than via swine workers (or flies, another proven vector of CAFO diseases).

To begin with, some swine CAFO's recover water from their waste lagoons and recycle it back into the animal housing, in order to wash out the barns while also cutting down on dwindling groundwater supplies (a particular concern in parts of Mexico, to be sure). But wildfowl routinely land in CAFO lagoons, where they can easily shed influenza virus into the water. This can also happen at facilities that use water from nearby ponds or rivers.

Here in the U.S., the National Pork Board had already urged all producers to take a number of steps to reduce the risk of avian-to-swine influenza transmission (A new advisory has also been posted today).

"It is in the best interest of both human public health and animal health that transmission of influenza viruses from pigs to people, from people to pigs, from birds to pigs and from pigs to birds be minimized," says the group's website, Pork.org.

"The global reservoir of influenza viruses in waterfowl, the examples of infection of pigs with waterfowl-origin influenza viruses, the risks for reassortment of avian viruses with swine and/or human influenza viruses in pigs, and the risk for transmission of influenza viruses from pigs to domestic turkeys all indicate that contact between pigs and both wild and domestic fowl should be minimized," the Pork Board says. It then offers some "potentially useful" factors to "reduce transmission of influenza viruses between birds and pigs":
■ Bird-proofing - All doorways, windows and air-flow vents in swine housing units should be adequately sealed or screened to prevent entrance of birds.


■ Water treatment - Do not use untreated surface water as either drinking water or water for cleaning in swine facilities. Likewise, it may be prudent to attempt to minimize waterfowl use of farm lagoons.

■ Separation of pig and bird production - Do not raise pigs and domestic fowl on the same premises.

■ Feed security - Keep pig feed in closed containers to prevent contamination with feces from over-flying waterfowl.

■ Worker biosecurity - Provide boots for workers that are worn only within the pig housing units, thus eliminating.

Dr. Liz Wagstrom, the board's director of veterinary science, said she did not know if Mexican producers followed the same precautions, though she did note that none of the Mexican herds under US contract have reported any unusual health problems.

As for the use of surface water sources on U.S. pig farms, Wagstrom said it does happen, but her group is moving to avoid that practice industry-wide. She added that the new virus has not been detected in any U.S. pigs, and there is no importation of live swine from Mexico.


● When Pig Viruses Collide

The CDC, USDA and Mexican authorities will surely focus on this previously unheard of viral "reassortment" that combines swine influenza components from both American and Eurasian strains.

Pigs don't fly, so how could this happen? One explanation, again, is the birds. Every year, more than two million wild fowl fly up to 1,500 miles or more eastward across the Arctic Ocean from Asia to North America. There, the migrating Asian birds intersect with North American species along the great north-south "flyways" of the Americas. There is sharing of viruses between bird species from both continents, UI's Dr. Gray told me.

Last October, a team from the U.S. Geological Survey published a study in Molecular Ecology that found genetic evidence of (non-H5N1) flu viruses in northern pintail ducks in Alaska whose genes were more closely related to Asian bird flu strains than those in the Americas. "Although some previous research has led to speculation that intercontinental transfer of avian influenza viruses from Asia to North America via wild birds is rare, this study challenges that," Chris Franson, a USGS wildlife biologist, told reporters.

The question, then, is could the Asian avian virus contain swine flu components from Eurasian pigs?

"Absolutely," said Ellen Silbergeld, professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a leading researcher of pathogen evolution in CAFOs. "A pig infected by avian virus can then come into contact with swine virus, which then combines and gets picked up by a bird again. It's a viral patchwork. Wild birds can carry virus with swine components in it - a lot of avian viruses contain elements from pigs."

Silbergeld is by no means convinced that birds brought the Eurasian genetic material to Mexico.

"Pig's don't fly, but pork does," she said. "There is an active international transfer of all kinds of animal products, including food, food components, animal waste, offal, feed made of rendered animals and so on. Some of it is imported from Asia or Europe."

And of course, people fly, too. Dr. Silbergeld thinks that human travel is the most likely way that Eurasian swine viral components made their way to Mexico. "A tourist from China could have gone to Mexico City, and that Asian strain was picked up by somebody else, who then went to a swine barn," she suggested. "It's a likely explanation. Sometimes we overestimate what wild birds can do."

But no matter how the Eurasian strain got to Mexico, Dr. Silbergeld thinks the genetic swimming pool that is found in modern swine - or poultry - production is probably the place from whence this killer bug evolved.

"CAFOs are not biosecure," she told me. "They have high rates of ventilation and enormous number of animals that would die of heat stress unless the building was ventilated. We and others have measured bacteria and viruses in the environment around poultry and swine houses. They are carried by flies, too. These places are not bio-secure going in - or going out."

"These mixing bowls of intensive operations of chickens and pigs are contributing to speeding up viral evolution," Dr. Silbergeld added. "I think CAFOs are contributing."

But, what about traditional outdoor farms? Aren't those animals even more susceptible to wild type viruses than animals kept indoors, as industry claims? "Well, let's say that animals in confinement are ten times less likely to be infected by wild animals," she said, "But there are 100 times as many of them. You do the math."

The Pork Board's Dr. Wagstrom said her industry has been working closely with the US Government for nearly a year to set up a new monitoring and rapid animal-identification system for emerging swine flu strains in the U.S. herd. Wagstrom added that the new virus "could have" emerged from a Mexican swine CAFO, though she doesn't think birds were involved.

"Where it happened is not as important right now as locating the virus, and stopping its spread," she said. "There will be lots of epidemiology done in the future to find out where this came from."

One hopes the hard detective work will get underway as soon as humanly possible.

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The author is currently completing a new book on industrial animal production for St. Martins Press.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/27/swine-flu-search-outbreak-source

Four-year-old could hold key in search for source of swine flu outbreak

Case confirmed in village in east Mexico where sixty per cent of residents fell ill

    Jo Tuckman in Mexico City and Robert Booth
       guardian.co.uk,
       Monday 27 April 2009 20.37 BST


A Mexican village whose inhabitants were overwhelmed by an outbreak of respiratory illness starting in February has emerged as a possible source of the swine flu outbreak which has now spread across the world.

The state government of Veracruz in eastern Mexico has confirmed one case of swine flu in the village of La Gloria with the sufferer named locally as a four-year-old boy, Edgar Hernandez Hernandez. The federal government said tonight that he tested positive for the same strain of the virus which has claimed lives in Mexico.

The boy's case earlier this month came amid an outbreak of respiratory illness in the area in which around 400 people requested medical help. The boy was treated in hospital and survived. But two babies from the same village died during the outbreak. Sufferers complained of symptoms including fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm.

"The symptoms were exactly like the ones they talk about now [with swine flu]," said a local resident. "High fevers, pain in the muscles and the joints, terrible headaches, some vomiting and diarrhoea. The illness came on very quickly and whole families were laid up."

It remained unclear tonight whether the illness was swine flu but the Mexican government appeared to cast doubt on its original diagnosis of the outbreak as a more typical H2N3 flu virus when it revealed that the only sample it sent to North America for swine flu tests came back positive.

"The sample of one of the cases, that of a four-year-old boy, was kept," said federal health minister José Ángel Córdova. "It was among the samples sent [to labs abroad] and that came back confirmed."

The Veracruz state government had previously said the infants died of bacterial pneumonia and said it has no plans to exhume their bodies to find out if the cause of death was swine flu.

Early today the US owner of an industrial pig production facility around 12 miles from La Gloria said it had found no clinical signs or symptoms of swine flu in its herd or Mexican employees. The world's biggest pig meat producer, Virginia-based Smithfield, said it is co-operating with the Mexican authorities' attempts to locate the possible source of the outbreak and will submit samples from its herds at its Granjas Carroll subsidiary to the University of Mexico for tests.

"Based on available recent information, Smithfield has no reason to believe that the virus is in any way connected to its operations in Mexico," it said in a statement. "The company also noted that its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct monthly tests for the presence of swine influenza."

The statement came after Mexico's national public health authority, the Mexican social security institute, raised concerns that waste from the Granjas Carrol facility may be responsible for the outbreak of illness, according to local media.

"According to state agents of the Mexican social security institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement," reported Mexico City newspaper La Jornada.

Swine flu can be caught through contact with infected animals, but it is unclear if contact with flies or excrement has the same effect.

A La Gloria resident who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity yesterday described how illness swept through the village. "Some people started getting ill in February and an eight-month-old baby died," she said. "After that another baby died on 21 March. Suddenly most of the village got ill. It was weekend and the tiny clinic here was closed. The state health authorities then did send doctors and nurses to look after us, and give us medication. About 60% of the village were ill and we asked them what it was and they said it was a severe and atypical cold. We talked about influenza and they said that was impossible, that influenza had been eradicated from Mexico."

Smithfield, which is led by pork baron Joseph W Luter III, has previously been fined for environmental damage in the US. In October 2000 the supreme court upheld a $12.6m (£8.6m) fine levied by the US environmental protection agency which found that the company had violated its pollution permits in the Pagan River in Virginia which runs towards Chesapeake Bay. The company faced accusations that faecal and other bodily waste from slaughtered pigs had been dumped directly into the river since the 1970s .

The outbreak of respiratory illness in the area of the Granjas Carroll plant was first detected at the beginning of this month by Veratect, a company based in Washington state which monitors the spread of disease and pandemics around the world for corporate clients.

On 6 April it reported local officials had declared a health alert. According to its dispatch: "Sources characterised the event as a 'strange' outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to pneumonia in some paediatric cases. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town's population, approximately 1,800 cases, has been affected."

Local health officials established a health cordon around La Gloria and the monitoring company reported that officials launched a spraying and cleaning operation that targeted the fly suspected to be the disease carrier. "State health officials also implemented a vaccination campaign against influenza, although sources noted physicians ruled out influenza as the cause of the outbreak," it said.

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6182789.ece


Mexico outbreak traced to 'manure lagoons' at pig farm

A village where residents have long complained about the smell and flies from a pig farm may be the source of the outbreak

      The Times
      April 28, 2009


The first known case of swine flu emerged a fortnight earlier than previously thought in a village where residents have long complained about the smell and flies from a nearby pig farm, it emerged last night.

The Mexican Government said it initially thought that the victim, Edgar Hernandez, 4, was suffering from ordinary influenza but laboratory testing has since shown that he had contracted swine flu. The boy went on to make a full recovery, although it is thought that at least 148 others in Mexico have died from the disease, and the number is expected to rise.

News of the infected boy is expected to create controversy in Mexico because the boy lived in Veracruz state, home to thousands of farmers who claim that their land was stolen from them by the Mexican Government in 1992. The farmers, who call themselves Los 400 Pueblos – The 400 Towns – are famous for their naked marches through the streets of Mexico City.

The boy’s hometown, La Gloria, is also close to a pig farm that raises almost 1 million animals a year. The facility, Granjas Carroll de Mexico, is partly owned by Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based US company and the world’s largest producer and processor of pork products. Residents of La Gloria have long complained about the clouds of flies that are drawn the so-called “manure lagoons” created by such mega-farms, known in the agriculture business as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

It is now known that there was a widespread outbreak of a powerful respiratory disease in the La Gloria area earlier this month, with some of the town’s residents falling ill in February. Health workers soon intervened, sealing off the town and spraying chemicals to kill the flies that were reportedly swarming through people’s homes.

A spokeswoman for Smithfield, Keira Ullrich, said that the company had 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. Meanwhile, Mexico’s National Organisation of Pig Production and Producers released its own statement, saying: “We deny completely that the influenza virus affecting Mexico originated in pigs because it has been scientifically demonstrated that this is not possible.”

According reports gathered on the website of James Wilson, a founding member of the Biosurveillance Indication and Warning Analysis Community (BIWAC), about 60 per cent of La Gloria’s 3,000-strong population have sought medical assistance since February.

“Residents claimed that three pediatric cases, all under two years of age, died from the outbreak,” wrote Mr Wilson. “However, officials stated that there was no direct link between the pediatric deaths and the outbreak; they said the three fatal cases were isolated and not related to each other.”

The case of the four-year-old boy was announced yesterday by Mexico’s Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, at a press conference that was briefly interrupted by an earthquake. “We are at the most critical moment of the epidemic. The number of cases will keep rising so we have to reinforce preventive measures,” he said, adding that in addition to the 149 deaths another 2,000 had been hospitalised with “grave pneumonia”, although at least half of that number had since made a full recovery.

Mr Cordova went on to say that there have been no new cases detected in La Gloria but epidemiologists want to take a closer look at pigs in Mexico as a potential source of the outbreak.

As the desease spread Greater Mexico City, usually a chaotic, traffic-snarled megatropolis of 22 million – where braised pork or carnitas, is prepared at taco stands on busy street corners – remained at a virtual standstill yesterday.

A majority of people are now wearing surgical masks and or plastic gloves in public. Airport terminals are deserted. Schools and government offices are closed and will remain so until at least early May – creating a childcare crisis for millions of working parents.

Many Mexicans are fearing the economic devastation caused by the health emergency as much as they are the prospect of swine flu. Adding to the misery, several countries including China have banned imports of live pigs and pork products from Mexico (and parts of the US) in spite of claims by farming trade groups that it is impossible to catch the virus from cooked meat.

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http://www.grist.org/article/2009-04-25-swine-flu-smithfield/

When pigs flu
Swine-flu outbreak could be linked to Smithfield factory farms

   Posted 11:06 AM on 25 Apr 2009
   by Tom Philpott


The outbreak of a new flu strain—a nasty mash-up of swine, avian, and human viruses—has infected 1,000 people in Mexico and the U.S., killing 68. The World Health Organization warned Saturday that the outbreak could reach global pandemic levels.

Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site.

On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 (major tip of the hat to Paula Hay, who alerted me to the Smithfield link on the Comfood listserv and has written about it on her blog, Peak Oil Entrepreneur):

------------------------------------------------------------
Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. 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. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.
------------------------------------------------------------

From what I can tell, the possible link to Smithfield has not been reported in the U.S. press. Searches of Google News and the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all came up empty. The link is being made in the Mexican media, however. “Granjas Carroll, causa de epidemia en La Gloria,” declared a headline in the Vera Cruz-based paper La Marcha. No need to translate that, except to point out that La Gloria is the village where the outbreak seems to have started. Judging from the article, Mexican authorities treat hog CAFOs with just as much if not more indulgence than their peers north of the border, to the detriment of surrounding communities and the general public health. Get this:

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De acuerdo con uno de los habitantes de la comunidad, Eli Ferrer Cortés, los desechos fecales y orgánicos que produce Granjas Carroll no son tratados adecuadamente, lo que genera contaminación del agua y del viento en la region.
------------------------------------------------------------

My rough translation: According to one community resident, the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated, creating water and air pollution in the region. I witnessed—and smelled—the same thing in Hardin County, Iowa, a couple of years ago, another area marked by intensive industrial hog production. The article goes on to say that area residents have long complained of “fetid odors” in the air and water, and swarms of flies hovering around waste lagoons. Like their counterparts who live in CAFO-heavy U.S. areas, they also complain of respiratory ailments. Now, with 30 percent of the area’s residents now infected with the virulent flu bug, people are demanding that state and federal authorities inspect hog operations there. So far, reports La Marcha, the response has been: nada.

The Mexico City daily La Jornada has also made the link. According to the newspaper, the Mexican health agency IMSS has acknowledged that the orginal carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

I’ll be in touch with contacts in Mexico as this story develops —and I’ll be curious to see whether the U.S. media explores the link with Smithfield’s Mexico operation.

Note: In the original version of this post, I had called production at Granjas Carroll “nearly equal to Smithfield’s total U.S. production.” I had been confusing total production at Granjas Carroll—950,000 hogs produced in fiscal 2008—with the number of sows, or breeding pigs, kept by Smithfield in the United States. According to my source—“Concentration of Ag Markets, 2007” (PDF) by Hendrickson and Heffernan—Smithfield keeps 1.2 million sows. Actual hog production is much larger—thus Smithfield’s total U.S. hog production is much larger than Granjas Carroll’s. I regret the error.

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