White House Briefing: Swine Flu

In addition, at the TSA, many of the similar measures are being implemented there with respect to the protection of our TSA workers and also their experience with travelers. To date, the State Department has not issued official travel advisories for particularly Mexico, but again, as I said earlier, these situations are very fluid and so you need to keep up to date on that. In addition to the CDC website, the Department of State has a website that will keep travelers posted on what the situation is not only with our neighboring countries, but with countries around the world.

As I said earlier, our intent is to update you daily on this situation so that you can know what is happening within the federal government. State and local governments obviously now are in the loop. State and local public health authorities obviously are working very hard and will be working hard, because as the doctor said, this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and even if this outbreak is a small one, we can anticipate that we may have a subsequent or follow-on outbreak several months later, which we will be prepared for.

And again, the government can’t solve this alone. We need everybody in the United States to take some responsibility here. If you are sick, stay home. Wash your hands, take all of those reasonable measures; that will help us mitigate, contain how many people actually get sick in our country.

Thank you.

MR. GIBBS: With that, let’s take a few questions.

Q Thanks, Robert. Are there any U.S. clusters that suggest this is easily spread? Have we seen any pockets of suspected cases in the U.S. that suggest this could be on the scale of Mexico? And you say it’s a marathon. How long is this marathon going to be?

DR. BESSER: Thanks for those questions. In terms of duration, my comment earlier about every outbreak is unique is really important to remember. And so it’s very hard to say. There’s one thing in our favor; we’re nearing the end of the flu season, we’re nearing the end of the season in which flu viruses tend to transmit very easily. And so we would expect to see a decline in cases, just like we’re seeing a decline in cases of seasonal flu, at some point.

The issue of clusters is an important one, and New York City earlier talked about their school cluster, and that’s important. Some of our early epidemiologic investigations are showing that contacts of people who have been diagnosed have a significant rate of respiratory infection — not confirmed to be this; we only have one documented by viral isolate case in this country of person-to-person spread — and that was an individual who had gone to Mexico and came back, and then there was a spouse who was diagnosed as well, and both are doing well.

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