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Stigma, Health Disparities, and the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic: How to Protect Latino Farmworkers in Future Health Emergencies

Monica Schoch-Spana, Nidhi Bouri, Kunal Rambhia, Ann Norwood
Date posted:
September 15, 2010
Publication type:

Biosecur Bioterror 2010;8(3):243-254

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Open access
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Article available on publisher’s site: HTML • PDF


At the outset of the 2009 H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) pandemic, Mexican nationals and Mexican commodities were shunned globally, and, in the United States, some media personalities characterized Mexican immigrants as disease vectors who were a danger to the country. We investigated instances in the U.S. of stigmatization of Latino migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs) and developed guidance for officials in curtailing its effects. At the same time, we explored social factors that make farmworkers more vulnerable to influenza infection and its complications, including high rates of underlying medical conditions, limited access to health care, and certain circumstances that interfere with the ability to implement community mitigation measures. This article reviews study findings and concludes with advice to policymakers and practitioners on the need to mitigate stigmatization in future outbreaks, to create public health preparedness systems that better protect migrant and seasonal farmworkers, and to undertake larger reforms to reduce institutional conditions that render farmworkers at greater risk for morbidity and mortality during health emergencies.



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