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Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 22:31 UK

Flu 'source' village besieged

By Matthew Price
BBC News, La Gloria, southern Mexico

People stand outside the house of a child who has reportedly survived swine flu in La Gloria, Mexico
A medical cordon has been set up around La Gloria

In his white lab coat, Dr Alejandro Cevallos is going door to door. His helper bangs the iron gate outside each house in La Gloria.

There is a deep metallic boom as they look to see if anyone is home.

Dr Cevallos does not wear a mask - he says that would be counterproductive and scare the villagers.

In one home the man says he feels ill, and he is worried he might have the virus. It turns out he simply has chest pains.

The doctor says a medical cordon has been set up around this village. "If people have the flu symptoms we send them to hospital," he says.

So far two people discovered in tests this week have been sent from here.

Media 'siege'

At night in La Gloria you can see a million stars. The sky is dark and huge.

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The villagers look on - bemused at the village takeover

At daybreak the area rolls out in front of you. Mountains line the horizon. It is rural and remote.

La Gloria is a quiet place of about 3,000 people, tucked away in southern Mexico - and it is now a possible source of the flu virus spreading around the world.

The first known victim - a young boy called Edgar Hernandez - lives here. He survived the virus.

La Gloria is besieged. TV crews run around the dusty streets, most not wearing protective masks.

Government workers also run around, trying to show they are in control. The villagers look on - bemused at the village takeover.

Edgar Hernandez was ill more than three weeks ago, and there has been plenty of time for the virus to spread from here.

Some believe this could have been the original source of the virus. Mexican officials say there is no evidence to support that.

UN mission

At one home, down a dirt track, an elderly woman stands outside, her skin wrinkled and dark with decades of sunshine.

CONFIRMED CASES
Mexico: 159 suspected deaths - seven confirmed cases
US: one death, at least 91 confirmed cases
Canada: 13 confirmed cases
UK: 5 confirmed cases
Spain: 10 confirmed cases
Germany, New Zealand: 3 confirmed cases each
Israel: 2 confirmed cases
Austria: 1 case

She told us her granddaughter had died after contracting flu.

"They didn't do anything for us," she said. "The nurse just told us to buy medicine, and said come back tomorrow."

The girl died in the doctor's arms the next day, she says. So far that case has not been scientifically linked to the swine virus.

The Mexican government says it is doing everything it can to help stop the spread of the virus. It has closed schools across the country.

It is also sending medical teams to places like La Gloria, but the town is in the headlines and not everywhere is getting the same assistance.

It is hard to piece together exactly what the situation is here.

A UN team is due to arrive this week and - in conjunction with the Mexican government - will carry out tests to try and determine the source of this virus.

They have their work cut out for them.



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