Monday, May 04, 2009


Where does the Swine Flu originate from?

Smithfield Foods, the world.s largest pork packer and hog producer!!

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 :

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.

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:

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.

CDC: swine flu strain has genetic roots in U.S.A

In an interview with Science Magazine, the CDC.s chief virologist, Ruben Donis. essentially confirmed the reading of the current swine flu strain made by New Scientist: that it evolved from a strain that cropped up in U.S. hog farms in 1998. Both New Scientist and Donis emphasize that what talking about is a swine direct contradiction of the pork industry.s party line. In an interview with me today, David Warner, director of communications at the National Pork Producers Council, repeatedly attributed the outbreak to .human flu, not swine flu.. He acknowledged that new strain had swine and avian components, but insisted that the human components dominated; and he denied outright that the hog industry had anything to do with it. So that.s the pork industry.s take. Here.s the assessment of CDC.s Donis, as portrayed in this Science interview.

Q: Is it of swine origin?

R.D.: Definitely. It.s almost equidistant to swine viruses from the United States and Eurasia. And it.s a lonely branch there. It doesn.t have any close relatives.

Q: How about the neuraminidase gene?

R.D.: It has close relatives in Asia. It.s also swine.

Q: The matrix gene?

R.D.: The same as neuraminidase.

Q: So where are avian and human sequences?

R.D.: We have to step back [to] 10 years ago. In 1998, actually, Chris Olsen is one of the first that saw it, and we saw the same in a virus from Nebraska and Richard Webby and Robert Webster in Memphis saw it, too. There were unprecedented outbreaks of influenza in the swine population. It was an H3.

But what about the Asian component? In my interview with the National Pork Producer.s Warner, he suggested that the flu had developed primarily in Asia. The CDC.s Donis isn.t buying that.

Q: What.s the newest part of this strain?

R.D.: Neuraminidase and the matrix are the newest to be seen in North America. They were not part of the team.I talk about flu virus as teams of genes. There are eight players. They have these two new players from Asia.

Q: It suggests a mixing of pigs from North America and Asia.

R.D.: One little detail we haven.t discussed is [that] these Midwestern viruses were exported to Asia. Korea and many countries import from the U.S. Swine flu is economically not such a big deal that many countries don.t check for it.

In other words, the strain stems from from U.S. hog farms in 1998, and has since bounced back and forth between here and Asia.

As Laskawy noted in the above-linked post, Donis doesn.t dismiss Smithfield.s Granjas Carroll operations in Mexico as a possible source of the outbreak.

Q: What do you think about the pig farm in Veracruz?

R.D.: I don.t know the details. They said they had a huge operation and the workers were not getting sick; that.s what the company claims. The only suspicious thing in that story is this is the largest farm in Mexico. The fact that the index case also is from the area makes it interesting.

Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:40 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home