The Edgar Hernandez swine flu statue in La Gloria, Mexico

Behold, the Bronze Swine Flu Statue of Mexico

Behold, the Bronze Swine Flu Statue of Mexico

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 5 2015 1:38 PM

Little Boy Zero: The Swine Flu Statue of Mexico

The statue depicting Edgar Hernandez, the five-year-old boy regarded as patient zero of the 2009 H1N1 epidemic.

Photo by Pablo Spencer/AFP/Getty Images

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Located 120 miles east of Mexico City, the tiny town of La Gloria—population 2,300—is home to a bronze statue of a little boy named Edgar Hernandez. Standing four-foot-three and clad in shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers, the statue holds a frog in its right hand. This frog, symbolizing one of the seven deadly plagues, also represents swine flu—Hernandez was four when he survived the earliest documented case of H1N1 in April 2009.

Guided by the belief that La Gloria's swine flu fame could bring a tourism boom, then Veracruz governor Fidel Herrera Beltran unveiled the statue in August 2009—at the height of the global pandemic that killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide in a year, according to the CDC. The bronza figure is modeled after Belgium's inexplicably popular urinating toddler statue, Manneken Pis. There's a reason for the resemblance—according to Beltran, Hernandez's recovery from swine flu caused people to believe his urine had healing powers, and the boy would often be followed to the bathroom.


Thus far, La Gloria's H1N1 statue has not generated a steady stream of swine flu tourists.

Edgar Hernandez in April 2010.

Photo by LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.