White House Briefing: Swine Flu

So let me talk about some of the public health actions that are going on. We are working very closely with state and local public health on the investigations going on around the country. We’re providing both technical support on the epidemiology as well as support on the laboratory in terms of confirming cases.

We’re also doing a lot of work with the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the governments of Mexico and Canada on this outbreak. There’s a tri-national team that is working in Mexico to try and understand better the spread — why are they seeing more severe disease in Mexico than we are here? That’s a critical question. We’re working to assist Mexico in establishing more laboratory capacity in-country. That, again, is very important because when you can define someone as a truly confirmed case, what you understand about how they acquire disease takes on much more meaning.

We issued two days ago an outbreak notice on our web site regarding travel to Mexico. It indicated that if you are traveling to Mexico, that you look at that to see what precautions could you take as an individual to reduce the likelihood that you became ill. We’re going to continue to evaluate the situation in Mexico, and if need be we will increase the warnings based on what the situation warrants.

Later today we’re going to be putting out some additional community guidance so that public health officials will know what our general recommendations are should they see cases in schools or additional cases in their community.

And I think that the last thing I want to mention is that whenever we see a novel strain of influenza, we begin our work in the event that a vaccine needs to be manufactured. So we’ve created that seed stock, we’ve identified that virus, and discussions are underway so that should we decide to work on manufacturing a vaccine, we can work towards that goal very quickly.

Our support to the states and locals will continue. We provide epidemiologic support, laboratory support, and we provide them support in terms of their medications and other material that they need to work on this outbreak.

So thank you very much, and I’ll turn it over to the Secretary.

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: Thanks, Dr. Besser. A number of things going on and the purpose of today, this briefing, is to give you the most current information about what is happening. And as has been mentioned before, this is a changing picture. And so we intend to conduct these types of briefings daily for a while so that, you know, it can help up communicate to the public what is happening and so that with knowledge people know what kind of issue we’re dealing with.

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