Weekly Immigration Wire: Fighting H1N1 Hype

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

This week's Wire focuses on the opportunities for change that crisis can introduce. From the H1N1 "Swine" flu's declining fervor to 2009's May Day marches for worker rights and immigrant solidarity; from the tragic killing of Luis Ramirez to legislative movement on immigration, these are tumultuous times. But it is precisely such conflict and challenge that provides the best opportunities to make lasting change.

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Weekly Pulse: Swine Flu Postgame Show

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

So far, swine flu hasn't developed into the deadly global pandemic that many feared. Was it all media hype, as Cervantes argues for AlterNet? Or did all that quarantining and hand-washing actually help? While we'll never know what might have been, perhaps we should consider the relatively mild swine flu as a cheap lesson--a dry run, if you will.

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Weekly Immigration Wire: Swine Flu Infecting Immigration Debate


by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

It's no shock that those long-opposed to All Things Immigrant are using the Swine Flu outbreak—which has mostly affected Mexicans at this point—to ratchet anti-immigrant rhetoric up to an irresponsible level. It's disappointing though, especially because the last few weeks saw more rational dialogue emerging in media coverage. This week's Wire examines the voices talking about immigration both in the media and on the ground, from those recycling age-old "eliminationist" rhetoric to those who put their own bodies on the line to fight for inclusive justice.

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Phase Five

Mexico's Health Minister José Angel Córdova announced today that Government of Mexico has ordered all nonessential activity of the federal government and private business to cease for a five day period in an effort to contain the swine flu epidemic. The decision came as global health authorities warned that the swine flu was threatening to bloom into a pandemic. Friday is May Day which is a holiday in Mexico so the closure is in effect just a two day 'forced holiday'. All nonessential private businesses must also close for that period but essential services like transport, supermarkets, trash collection, hospital will remain open.

As of Monday the daily economic impact of the epidemic was costing Mexico City alone $57 million USD. Mexico's central bank warned the outbreak will likely deepen the nation's recession, hurting an economy that was already hit hard by the global financial crisis. Mexico's economy shrank 8 percent in the first quarter year-over-year. Clearly the impact to the Mexican economy and its ripple effect across the globe will continue to mount. Egypt, for example, took the highly unusual step of ordering its entire 400,000 swine herd culled sparking riots among Egypt's Coptic Christian minority. The order hits the the slum-dwelling Zebaleen rubbish collectors who rely on the hogs for their livelihood. The Zebaleen feed their animals with a country's food scraps. The war on the poor often finds the flimsy of excuses and Egypt's response, widely condemned, is little more than an assault on a beleaguered minority.

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La Gloria y La Infamia - Globalization and Swine Flu

It's been interesting to see the coverage of the developing swine flu epidemic so far. I am stunned and saddened that the right would use a human tragedy as an opportunity to race bait. None worse or more pathetic than the yapping rabid Chihuahua that is Michelle Malkin who seems to think that porous borders have led to the spread of this virus into the United States. Ms. Malkin will be shocked to learn that the roots of this health crisis are to be found in the septic tank that is globalization.

La Gloria
The short but fatal history of this epidemic can found at Biosurveillance, a website run by James M. Wilson V, MD, an expert in tracking of global infectious disease and in Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. The outbreak seems to date back to at least February and to a locale called La Gloria, a rural community in the municipality of Perote in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

April 6

Veratect reported local health officials declared a health alert due to a respiratory disease outbreak in La Gloria, Perote Municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico.  Sources characterized the event as a "strange" outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to bronchial pneumonia in some pediatric cases. According to a local resident, symptoms included fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm. 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. No precise timeframe was provided, but sources reported that a local official had been seeking health assistance for the town since February.

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

Residents 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.

Local health officials had implemented several control measures in response to the outbreak. A health cordon was established around La Gloria. Officials launched a spraying and cleaning operation that targeted the fly suspected to be the disease vector. State health officials also implemented a vaccination campaign against influenza, although sources noted physicians ruled out influenza as the cause of the outbreak. Finally, officials announced an epidemiological investigation that focused on any cases exhibiting symptoms since 10 March.

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