CDC Briefs Media on Swine Influenza- Sunday April 26

Anne Schuchat, M.D, Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program answered questions from the media during the daily press conference on the swine influenza A. The United States is working aggressively to slow the growth of the disease.
Schuchat confirmed that one in the 20 confirmed cases in the United States has been hospitalized.

“We’re expecting the numbers to change quickly. The CDC will be updating the numbers on a daily basis. We do know that this is a human to human virus. Remember that the influenza virus is very unpredictable and because of that we are expecting many changes. We are not sure of the transmission pattern time wise of the virus yet.”

Because the swine flu has the same symptoms of so many other illnesses it is difficult to lock down a number at this point. The basic symptoms are; high fever, cough, muscle aches and stomach flu (diarrhea and vomiting).

There are now 20 confirmed cases in the United States. Those who traveled to Mexico do figure into that number. We do know that this virus is transmitted person to person to person. It can very well be spread in a school setting for instance as was the case in New York City.

Thus far the two newest flu medications are working well with those who have become ill.

The two cases in Kansas are a man and his wife. He got ill after returning from Mexico and his wife, who was not in Mexico, fell ill two days later.

WHO, the CDC, Mexico and Canada are all working together to slow the transmission of the virus. In Mexico the CDC is working on helping to ID those who are ill, examine the factors on how the virus is being transmitted, tackle lab issues so that the virus can be ID-ed more quickly and improve communication response.

The CDC will have different recommendations depending on each community. This information can and will be moving quickly. Public health departments are working within the clinical community to keep everyone informed of any new changes.

The best thing that the general public can do at this stage is to stay informed. If you are in an area with no disease still have basic good health care precautions such as hand washing and covering your mouth.

The main focus at this time for the CDC is to slow and limit the spread of the swine flu and the overall impact that this virus will have on the health community.

The CDC is now preparing yellow cards for border areas. There will not be extra screening at this time but that does not mean screening is not taking place. Screening happens for those who are ill at the borders at all times.

In Mexico there are 12 confirmed positive cases some of which were from fatalities. Schuchat reminded the media not to focus on the numbers at this time. The tests take time to process. The truth is there are many cases and it’s clear the disease is in several parts of the country, not only in Mexico but in the United States as well.

It is still not known why Mexico appears to have more severe cases than the United States. One explanation could be the numbers of ill already in Mexico. Schuchat said that the CDC does fear that the United States will be seeing deaths from the swine flu.

One theory to the reason that the cases in the United States and with the elderly are less severe could be previous exposure and immune protection.

We know that this virus can not be contained at the border. there is however a lot that can be done to slow the transmission down. Patients are being isolated in health care centers. The easiest way to slow the transmission of the disease though lays in the hands of the general public. Taking basic precautions when one is ill such as staying home or seeking medical care when needed is a good way to help slow the disease. Washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and avoiding public places when ill will all be a part of slowing transmission down.

Another key step in being prepared is to know what you will do if next steps have to be taken. One example is if your child’s school is shut down have a plan in place for child care. Also inform yourself where to obtain local information about the swine flu in your community.

There were questions about the potential vaccine that is in the works and the vaccine that took place in 1976 where many became ill with other conditions after a mass vaccine program for swine flu. Schuchat said that there has been many advancements in vaccine production since 1976 and at this time that matter is a precautionary concern.

Everyday Precautions
1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

2. Stay home if you are ill.

3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

4. Clean your hands often.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, hands or mouth.

6. Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be active, manage stress levels, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy meals.


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