The Little Boy Behind the Swine Flu Crisis

By Xana O'Neill
|  Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009  |  Updated 2:27 PM PDT
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Photos: Swine Flu Outbreak Worldwide

AP

Little Edgar suffered from flu-like symptoms but recent tests revealed that the young child had the same strain of swine flu that killed more than 150 in Mexico.

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The swine flu crisis that has gripped the globe and spread fear worldwide can be traced back to a little boy from a small Mexican village, according to reports.

Four-year-old Edgar Hernandez was infected with what is believed to be the first mutant strain of swine flu in a tiny village in eastern Mexico where residents have complained about the smell and flies from a pig farm nearby that raises one million animals a year, the Times UK reported.

Little Edgar suffered from flu-like symptoms but recent tests revealed that the young child had the same strain of swine flu that killed more than 150 in Mexico, the paper reported.

The little boy survived -- but not before an outbreak of the virus plagued 60 percent of villagers.

Residents of the boy's hometown of La Gloria complained about "manure lagoons" and swarms of flies from the industrial pig farm -- a facility about 12 miles from the village that is partly owned by Smithfield Foods, the world's largest producers and processor of pork products based in Virginia.

A spokesperson for Smithfield told the Times that the company found no clinical signs or symptoms of swine flu in its herd or employees.

More than 400 residents complained of respiratory illness in February, prompting health workers to seal off the town and spray chemicals to rid homes of swarms of flies, the Times reported.

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

Another resident told the Guardian that "most of the village got ill."

"It was weekend and the tiny clinic here was closed," the woman said. "The state health authorities then did send doctors and nurse to look after us and give us medication. About 60 percent of the village were ill and we asked them what it was and they said it was severe and atypical cold.

"We talked about influenza and they said that was impossible, that influenza had been eradicated from Mexico."

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