Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Wages of Child Labor

You all know about the hepatitis A outbreak, spread by imported scallions, that has killed three and sickened hundreds.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, child labor in Mexico could be to blame
How the scallions became contaminated is not known. Hepatitis A is spread by fecal matter from infected people, particularly those who fail to wash their hands after using the restroom. The virus can survive in food, though it does not multiply outside the body.

The report by the disease control agency noted that children work on the scallion farms in Mexico, and would be especially likely to spread the virus. Hepatitis A is a common childhood disease in developing countries, Dr. Osterholm said.

Children are far more likely to be infected than are adults because most adults in the developing world had the disease in childhood and became immune to it.