Swine Flu: Goverment declares public health emergency

Monday, April 27, 2009 - 8:51pm

The numbers of confirmed swine flu cases continue to rise in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. government is taking extra precautions and urging caution and preparedness over panic and hysteria.

Mexico is the center of this outbreak. Suspected swine flu deaths have topped 140 in that country and cases have climbed to more than 1600. The Mexican government has closed schools nationwide and hundreds of events are canceled. A majority of Mexico's suspected swine flu victims were between the ages of 20 and 50.

The U.S. is offering to help. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged, "to make sure they have the resources and the technical expertise that they might need if they so request."

So far, the U.S. swine flu cases are more mild. The CDC has confirmed more than three dozen cases of swine flu. Most of the cases stemmed from students at a New York City school who spent spring break in Mexico. Cases have also been confirmed in Kansas, California, Ohio and Texas.

Dr. Richard Besser, is Acting Director of the Center for Disease Control. He says, "We are only aware of one individual who was hospitalized and all people who've been affected and were sick have recovered. The median age is 16 years."

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency, which allows Washington to ship flu-fighting medications from federal stock piles. Officers at airports, seaports and border crossings are watching for signs of illness and officials at some airports around the world are using equipment to monitor the temperature of travelers.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify before a Senate committee about the global swine flu outbreak on Wednesday.