Mexican agriculture exporters could have an increasingly difficult time shipping their products to the US because of negative publicity surrounding an outbreak of hepatitis in four US states in recent weeks and a new bioterrorism law enacted by US President George W. Bush's administration in mid-December.
The outbreak of hepatitis A was most severe in western Pennsylvania, where more than 600 people were confirmed to have been infected after consuming green onions at a local restaurant. Similar cases were reported in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, although fewer people were affected.
US officials concluded that green onions imported from Mexico were contaminated with the hepatitis virus somewhere in the growing, packaging, or delivery process. Hepatitis A attacks the liver and can cause fever, nausea, diarrhea, jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
The negative publicity is reminiscent of a similar case in 1997, when strawberries imported from Mexico were blamed for an outbreak of …