First Swine Flu Death in Mexico

The first swine flu death in Mexico occurred on 13 April, but mucus samples were not sent to the US Center for Diseases and Control until five days later.

If this process had been quicker, there might have been a better chance of containing the outbreak.

Almost two weeks before tests confirmed she was the first person to die of swine flu, doctors in the southern colonial town of Oaxaca couldn't figure out what was wrong with a 39-year-old woman who arrived at their hospital gasping for air, her hands and feet blue from oxygen-starved blood.

The first person to die of swine flu was a 39-year-old tax inspector whose job required her to make door-to-door visits, putting her in contact with at least 300 unsuspecting members of the public when the disease was at its most virulent, Mexican authorities have said.

Maria Adela Gutierrez, a census-taker in the southern tourist city of Oaxaca, was admitted to a local hospital on 8 April and died five days later. She'd been suffering acute respiratory problems, exacerbated by diabetes and severe diarrhoea, and is believed to have infected scores of people.