From La Jornada, May 8, 2009
The Federal Commission for Protection against Public Health Risks (Cofepris--Spanish acronym) only verified that there were no sick pigs in Granjas Carroll and the community. The public health visit was limited to La Gloria months after the outbreak. The report contains data which contradict that reported by the National Water Commission.
by Ángeles Cruz Martínez
At the end of April, two months after the flu outbreak that affected 25 percent of the inhabitants of La Gloria in Perote, Veracruz, and six days after a public health emergency was declared in the country because of the epidemic of A/H1N1 flu, the Federal Commission for Protection against Public Health Risks (Cofepris) completed a public health verification which was limited to confirming that there were no sick pigs either in Granja Carroll or in La Gloria.
Miguel Ángel Toscano, head of the Commission, participated yesterday in a press conference at the Health Department (Ssa--Spanish acronym) in which he described the state of the epidemic in the country. He also recounted the activities which supervisors of Cofepris undertook both in the town and in the pig plant, but without making any reference to the complaints which the inhabitants of La Gloria have made over the years about public health risks because of environmental contamination.
This past March 1, one of the 1,200 case of A/H1N1 confirmed at this point was recorded in La Gloria. In La Gloria, one of the unusual outbreaks of influenza between February and March of this year also occurred, in which 25% of the inhabitants were affected.
Discontented citizens at that time expressed their fear that the viral infections were related to the contamination generated at Granja Carroll; however, nobody paid attention to them. The epidemiological outbreak ended, and it wasn't until this past April 23 when Ssa confirmed that one of the tests taken in La Gloria on April 23 and sent to Canada for testing came back positive for the new virus.
The discontent of the Veracruzanos [La Gloria is in the state of Veracruz] sharpened when they found out that A/H1N1 had a genetic component of swine origin Yesterday in his presentation, Toscano highlighted the basic public health measures and public health promotion which the government of Veracruz had undertaken, such as the distribution of [colloidal silver, 5 kilograms of hyperclorito of calcium], chlorination of fifty water tanks, and 100 kilograms of lime and the [encalamiento-- lime treatment)?] of foci of infection.** Then Toscano proceeded to recount the visit to Granja Carrol, located eight kilometers from La Gloria. According to Toscano, the company manages garbage well. It is taken away by specialized contracting businesses. The management of [pig] corpses is by means of composting mixed with straw and dirt in installations with concrete walls and a mesh roof to avoid bird, rodent and insect infestations. In addition, he said the mortality rate at the granja is maintained below the average of the sector. From October 2008 to March 2009 it varied between 2.1 and 2.9 percent, where as the average in pig farms is between 3.1 and 3. percent. He also referred to the operational conditions of the granja which, he said, included measures maintaining a high level of biosecurity such as a mesh fence surrounding the whole installation, programs of weed and pest control, disinfection and sanitization of materials which enter the farm and keeping food containers closed, among other measures.
According to Toscano -- and in contradiction to that which the National Water Commission reported in respect to the existence of underground filtration of fecal wastes--, the oxidation lagoons in which the solid wastes are captured are constructed in three layers of compaction withclay and a special sealant which prevents filtering into the subsoil. * Granjas Carroll is a company that is jointly owned by Smithfield Foods of the US and Agroindustrias Unidaswith 16 pig factories in the states of Veracruz and Puebla, all, I think, in the areas of the Valley of Perote and the Valley of Guadalupe Victoria. It's worth taking a tour through their website.* Granja Carroll or granja Carroll refers to the factory nearest to La Gloria. ** I am not scientifically-minded enough to translate these terms correctly to English since I'm not sure what they'd be in English.