Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Situation Evolving Quickly, CDC

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hosted a press briefing to discuss the ongoing investigation of cases of swine flu on Monday, April 17. The briefing was presented by CDC Director Richard E. Besser, MD. A full transcript is available. Below are some excerpts of what Dr. Besser said (emphasis added):

This situation is evolving very quickly.

....we want to be aggressive. We want to take bold action to minimize the impact on people′s health from this infection.

We are officially reporting 40 confirmed cases in the United States in five states.

So far, CDC has confirmed 26 cases in Mexico, but, clearly, from the reports coming out of Mexico this is a small fraction of what they′re seeing.

We will be distributing yellow cards at ports of entry. These will provide information on swine flu so that people coming into the United States will have information about this outbreak and what to do if they become sick and what things they can do in the likelihood that they do become sick.  [NOTE: Dr. Besser did not address the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross the US-Mexican border every week who not be given the yellow cards.]

It′s time to think about that so that you′re ready in the event that there were a case in your child′s school. It′s time for businesses to review their plans and think about what would i do if some of my workers couldn′t come to work? How would my business function? Think about that.

There′s no single action that will control an outbreak, but the combined actions that we are proposing and they′re being undertaken around the country will help to stem the tide of any infectious disease outbreak and this one in particular. I want to reiterate that everyone has a responsibility and it′s been absolutely incredible to see people around the country standing up and taking responsibility and doing the things that they need to do to help reduce the impact of this outbreak. [NOTE: Dr. Besser did not address the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross the US-Mexican border every week.]

What we need to know is why we′re seeing a different disease spectrum in Mexico than we′re seeing here. I wouldn′t be overly reassured by that....I wouldn′t rest on the fact that we have only seen cases in this country that are less severe.... I expect that we will see additional cases and I expect that the spectrum of disease will expand.

In terms of our recommendations we would not recommend that people generally wear masks in their workplace as a precautionary measure.... Anything that you can do to prevent infection are critically important.... Masks, the evidence of their value outside of healthcare settings and outside of settings where you are coming direct face-to-face with someone who has an infectious disease, the evidence there is not very strong.... I would rather people really focus hand washing, not giving that little kiss of greeting when you′re meeting somebody right now. Doing those sorts of things and covering your cough and your sneeze.

You can′t get this from eating pork.... influenza is not transmitted by eating pork or pork products. They are safe.

....we look for any connections and see if any of the individuals who have been sick have been exposed to pigs or swine and we′re not finding that linkage here.

....we only have one case of documented by viral testing person to-person spread, but I wouldn′t be reassured by that. We′re seeing significant rates of respiratory infection among contacts, and I would expect that some of those individuals will end up testing positive for the swine flu virus.

The primary symptoms that we hear about, of fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, are still ones people need to look for.... there are individuals who have had gastrointestinal symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.

Another thing that′s important to note is that we′re nearing the end of flu season and often in outbreaks of influenza you′ll see a decline in the number of cases because it′s the end of flu season and we can′t rest too comfortably on that because sometimes it comes back again in the fall when flu season comes back.


Swine flu - The symptoms
What you need to know about swine flu
Centers for Disease Control

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