Published April 29, 2009
| Wall Street Journal
The family of a 5-year-old boy claim he was the first person confirmed with Mexico's swine flu.
Edgar Hernandez lives in the southern Mexican town of La Gloria, where more than 450 people — out of a population of 3,000 — have complained of respiratory problems.
After tests, the little boy was the only one found to be positive for swine flu — his parents and 3-year-old brother were also tested, but they did not have the virus.
Health officials tested other residents complaining of respiratory problems and concluded they had ordinary influenza.
Edgar got sick in late March or early April and recovered after a few days.
Local resident Jose Luis Martinez, 34, said he made the connection when he heard a description on the news of the symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
"When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, 'This is what we had,'" Martinez told SkyNews. "It all came from here. The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here."
Edgar's case has gained attention because he lives near a large pig farm, fueling suspicion that the outbreak began there. The farm, Granjas Carroll, is a joint venture between Mexican firm Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico SA and Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc.
The company says that none of its workers or pigs are sick. Mexican officials are testing the pigs, but say they don't believe the infection began there.
Now that doctors are aware of the new bug, there is a greater likelihood that they will make the right diagnosis the first time.
"The mortality rate has been very high, but that's before people knew what was going on. Greater awareness by both patients and doctors may help lower that," said Julio Frenk, the dean of Harvard's School of Public Health and a former Mexican health minister.