When Erica Gibson traveled to La Gloria, Mexico, for fieldwork earlier this year, she found that the emergence of swine flue had dramatically impacted the town. Here we feature a post from Gibson (U South Carolina, assistant professor) regarding her experience. See her photo, below, and click on the hyperlink to read her article.
My assistant and I traveled to the small pueblo of La Gloria with two Mexican researchers to talk to the local healthcare worker and interview pregnant women about prenatal care access. This was no ordinary Mexican village, however, and the differences were immediately noticeable as we toured the dusty streets. La Gloria had recently become the global epicenter of one of the newest pandemic infectious diseases: H1N1, better known as swine flu. There were 288 cases of flu this year in La Gloria, with 40 of those diagnosed as H1N1. It was the first case diagnosed by a scientist from the CDC, that of young Edgar Hernandez, that brought international media attention to the town.
Granjas Carroll, an industrial hog farm branch of US-owned Smithfield Foods, was one of the focuses of the pandemic investigations. Speculation was made that the zoonotic transmission of swine flu occurred here in La Gloria due to the town’s proximity to Granjas Carroll. This speculation, along with fear of contracting a new flu strain, shut down the tourism industry of the entire country and illustrates how globalization has far-reaching effects stemming from even the tiniest towns.
The town has benefited from the media attention. The eight mile road into La Gloria was paved, a mobile kitchen was set up to provide the residents three free meals per day, and a large banner was hung from the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social Clinic announcing that residents showing signs of the flu would receive free care (see photo). Symptoms of the flu were written out as well as illustrated. The swine flu had not directly impacted the care of any of the pregnant women that we interviewed, but one can only wonder what the long-standing effects the pandemic will have on this town.
Do you have a recent fieldwork photo that you’d like to share? Enter the 2009 AAA Photo Contest by October 1.