WISCONSINREPORT.COM (04/30/2009) - In response to an intensifying outbreak in the United States and internationally caused by a new influenza virus of swine origin, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 5 yesterday (April 29, 2009). Meanwhile new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cautions people not to panic. Sebelius reminds people there are flu outbreaks every year and everyear there are some flu deaths. She also says HHS and other agencies are doing everything possible to limit the seriousness of this particular flu outbreak.
Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services recently, after Congress approved President Barack Obama's choice.
"I come to the Department as our nation confronts a serious public health challenge, the 2009 flu outbreak. My heart goes out to the families across the country and around the world who are feeling the impact of this health crisis," Sebelius says.
"In the coming days, I will work closely with President Obama and officials from across the government as we address this threat," HHS Secretary Sebelius points out.
"I also want to recognize the dedicated staff at HHS for the work they are doing to protect public health and inform the American people about this crisis," Sebelius said.
A Phase 5 alert is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.
As of 9:30 AM (CDT) this morning (April, 30, 2009) there have been 109 confirmed cases of Swine Flu in the United States, and only one death (the 23 month old Mexican youth brought to this country for treatment).
Statistics indicate the outbreaks of Swine Flu in the United States are beginning to show up in more states: One case in Arizona, 14 in California, 1 in Indiana, 2 in Kansas, 2 in Massachusetts, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Nevada, 50 in New York, 1 in Ohio, 10 in South Carolina, and 26 in Texas. So far, the only reported death has been in Texas.
The United States Government has declared a public health emergency in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) response goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by this emergency.
President Barack Obama is urging people to use the kind of common sense approach everyone should take to prevent contracting any flu and to prevent spreading the illness. He suggests you should wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and don't go to work or school if you are sick, etc.
The President is confident the department heads and staffs of the CDC, HHS, and Homeland Security are doing everything they can to curtail the effects of the Swine Flu.
CDC is issuing and updating interim guidance daily in response to the rapidly evolving situation. CDCís Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak.
The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. In addition, the Federal Government and manufacturers have begun the process of developing a vaccine against this new virus.
As part of the effort to get information out, HHS Secretary Sebelius and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano answered questions from the American people regarding the H1N1 flu on a Webcast at noon (CDT) today. They were joined by Acting Director of CDC, Dr. Besser during the one hour Webcast. The Webcast was viewed at www.hhs.gov and www.cdc.gov. Viewers were asked to submit questions for the webcast by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.