Recent news inform that Veratect, an American bio-surveillance company, informed the CDC of a influenza-related health threat in the pig farms area of the port of Veracrúz since the end of March.
Using its artificial intelligence and global network of multilingual analysts, Veratect detected the first indications of the influenza outbreak in Mexico at the end of March. As such, it was the first to alert the Emergency Operations Center and Global Disease Detection Center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Veratect CEO Bob Hart. It also passed the information on to health officials in Colorado, Nevada and Washington state.
OK, first: Why the hell didn't they inform the Mexican government first?? According to Reforma (a Mexican newspaper), Veratect informed the WHO by April 2nd (more on that later). Right now I'm hearing a radio press conference from the Health Secretary director, who grudgingly acknowledged that they did knew about the alert from Veracrúz, went to investigate, and found one child with the same viral strand that caused the outbreak. And... that's it. Maybe they thought they should keep an eye on this, but it doesn't seem they did such a great job, does it?
The Secretary director was just asked by an American reporter about Veratect. He angrily replied that he didn't know anything about Veratect, and that Veratect acted irresponsibly by not informing the WHO— so right now is confusing the chain of events, whether the WHO informed Mexico on April 2nd, or whether the Mexican authorities reported the outbreak to the WHO as they seem to claim. My gut tells me it was the former.
Meanwhile, for those of you with time to spare and a morbid fascination for health threats, you can watch the swine flu outbreak in real time, thanks to the guys at Gizmodo (thanks to Loren Coleman for the tip).
The Mexican government informs of a death toll of 103 confirmed deaths. It seems highly likely that this figure is inaccurate, and that in fact the number of deaths is higher.
Sergio Sarmiento, a Mexican journalist who writes for the Reforma newspaper, was told by an employee of the ISSTE (The Social Security Service for the State employees) on his radio show that they had 194 deceases in the last 2 weeks.
Also, an uncle of mine works at the newspaper Excelsior, and he told his wife that they've had reports of over a thousand deaths, but that the government forbids them to release these figures. Bear in mind this is an unconfirmed rumor.
I wrote Sarmiento to ask him if he knows whether Manuel Camacho Solís —read the past blog post— was a guest on the reception diner held in honor of President Obama's visit to Mexico. I'll keep you informed if he writes back.
The Veratect issue is rather confusing right now. Whether they informed the WHO about the outbreak, or just the CDC is frankly a bit unclear right now.
PS: On top of that, a few minutes ago we had an earthquake! A 6.0 apparently. Like Loren (Coleman) advises me, I should look out for falling frogs from the sky now @_@
PPS: As of April 27th at 21:17 hrs (Mexico city time), this story about Veratect has not been mentioned in other media networks apart from Tech Flash (and the Mexican newspaper Reforma). Searching for 'Veratect' on the CDC page yields no results. Is it just a rumor promoted by the company?