Richard Besser, M.D., Acting Director, CDC gave today’s briefing to reporters at the CDC on the latest swine flu information.
On thoughts about closing borders it was noted that once the disease has crossed the border there is not an added value. There will continue to be surveillance at all borders for the disease.
In past modeling cases of flu outbreaks, mild cases protect future infections. It is not known if this will be the case though in the fall when it is suspected that there will be a larger outbreak.
Earlier today on TV Vice President Joe Biden said that he nor his family will be flying. Doctor Besser assured the reporters that public transport is safe at this time. Besser also noted that if you are ill do not use public transportation.
There have been some slight changes to the way the outbreak is behaving. A few more serious cases are beginning to be reported. Six patients are now in hospital. Besser had no other details on those cases. Besser also did not have the numbers of people going to the emergency rooms across the nation with suspected cases of swine flu.
We do know that the flu virus spreads easily in community settings. This virus is being investigated as to how easily it spreads but if it is like other flu viruses it does not require close personal contact.
“We don’t know yet how easily it is transmitted.”
If the need for a vaccine, which will [-b]not be ready until the fall arises it will then be decided who will get the shot. It will be impossible to produce enough vaccine for everyone in the US. The final decisions will be a matter of public discussion and knowing who the risk groups are at that time.
According to the latest numbers at WHO there are 236 confirmed cases worldwide.
As for suspected cases Veratect has non going non-stop in the past 24 hours that I have been monitoring them on twitter. The service is available for anyone who wishes to monitor them for free.
Last night President Obama spoke to the press about the swine flu.
Well, first of all, as I said, this is a cause for deep concern, but not panic. And I think that we have to make sure that we recognize that how we respond — intelligently, systematically, based on science and what public health officials have to say — will determine in large part what happens.
I’ve consulted with our public health officials extensively on a day-to-day basis, in some cases, an hour-to-hour basis. At this point they have not recommended a border closing. From their perspective it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out, because we already have cases here in the United States. We have ramped up screening efforts, as well as made sure that additional supplies are there on the border so that we can prepare in the eventuality that we have to do more than we’re doing currently.
But the most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks, just understanding that because this is a new strain we don’t yet know how it will respond. So we have to take additional precautions — essentially, take out some additional insurance. That’s why I asked for an additional $1.5 million, so that we can make sure that everything is in place should a worst-case scenario play out.