Dozens of people in a Mexican city are gravely ill with what is being treated as a possible outbreak of avian flu, according to a new report from a Spanish-language website.

According to El Universal, authorities in a neighborhood in Guanajuato say 45 patients have been given medical attention at the area’s hospital after they reported symptoms including extreme headaches, stomachaches, vomiting and diarrhea.

The cases have developed over the last two weeks and “feel [like] death,” according to Silvia Villalobos, one of the victims who spoke to El Universal correspondent Xochitl Alvarez in Spanish.

A spokesman for the regional general hospital, Ernesto Castle, said he does not know the cause of the problems, but officials are looking at an avian flu virus, which is transmitted by birds and is similar to botulism, as a source.

He reported at least 45 patients have been given emergency room medical attention, while others went to their private physicians for help.

One man reported his wife was hospitalized after the symptoms hit, waking her with fever and chills, before she fainted.

Guadalupe Gomez, a resident of the area, said her concern was that the epidemic was being carried by flies attracted by leather processed in the tanning industry, which includes leathers from other nations.

City spokesman Jose Eusebio Olague said officials have directed that barricades be set up so the sick do not spread the infections even further.

Traditional causes for fever and chills essentially have been ruled out by various tests, officials said. Sources in the air, water and other industries have been eliminated as a cause, officials said.

This type of threat was addressed at the recent Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America summit in Canada, where officials released a plan that establishes U.N. law along with regulations by the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization as supreme over U.S. law during a pandemic. It also sets the stage for militarizing the management of continental health emergencies.

The “North American Plan for Avian & Pandemic Influenza” was finalized at the SPP summit last month in Montebello, Quebec.

At the same time, the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, has created a webpage dedicated to avian flu and has been running exercises in preparation for the possible use of U.S. military forces in a continental domestic emergency involving avian flu or pandemic influenza.

With virtually no media attention, in 2005 President Bush shifted U.S. policy on avian flu and pandemic influenza, placing the country under international guidelines not specifically determined by domestic agencies.

The policy shift was formalized Sept. 14, 2005, when Bush announced a new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza to a High-Level Plenary Meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, in New York.

The new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza was designed to supersede an earlier November 2005 Homeland Security report that called for a U.S. national strategy that would be coordinated by the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Agriculture.

The 2005 plan, operative until Bush announced the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, directed the State Department to work with the WHO and U.N., but it does not mention that international health controls are to be considered controlling over relevant U.S. statutes or authorities.

Under the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, Bush agreed the U.S. would work through the U.N. system influenza coordinator to develop a continental emergency response plan operating through authorities under the WTO, North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The SPP plan for avian and pandemic influenza announced at the Canadian summit last month embraces the international control principles Bush first announced to the U.N. in his 2005 International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza declaration.

David Nabarro is new U.N. system influenza coordinator

In Sept. 2005, Dr. David Nabarro was appointed the first U.N. system influenza coordinator, a position which also places him as a senior policy adviser to the U.N. director-general.

Nabarro soon after fueled the global fear that an epidemic was virtually inevitable.

In response to a question about the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that killed approximately 40 million people worldwide, Nabarro commented, “I am certain there will be another pandemic sometime.”

Nabarro stressed at the press conference that he saw as inevitable a worldwide pandemic influenza coming soon that would kill millions.

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