Monday, April 27, 2009
The New York Times reports on the public health emergency declared by the US in response to the spread of the swine flu from Mexico to other countries, including the US. The article provides,
Responding to what some health officials feared could be the leading edge of a global pandemic emerging from Mexico, American health officials declared a public health emergency on Sunday as 20 cases of swine fluwere confirmed in this country, including eight in New York City. Other nations imposed travel bans or made plans to quarantine air travelers as confirmed cases also appeared in Mexico and Canada and suspect cases emerged elsewhere.
Top global fluexperts struggled to predict how dangerous the new A (H1N1) swine flu strain would be as it became clear that they had too little information about Mexico’s outbreak — in particular how many cases had occurred in what is thought to be a month before the outbreak was detected, and whether the virus was mutating to be more lethal, or less. “We’re in a period in which the picture is evolving,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, deputy director general of the World Health Organization. “We need to know the extent to which it causes mild and serious infections.” . . .
American investigators said they expected more cases here, but noted that virtually all so far had been mild and urged Americans not to panic. The speed and the scope of the world’s response showed the value of preparations made because of the avian flu and SARS scares, public health experts said. The emergency declaration in the United States lets the government free more money for antiviral drugs and give some previously unapproved tests and drugs to children. One-quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million courses of antiflu drugs will be released. . . .
In the meantime, it would be helpful if Congress approved the HHS nominee so that perhaps we could also have a new CDC director.