US Swine Flu Approach: “Passive” or “Aggressive?”

Reading the transcript of the Department of Homeland Security press conference Sunday about the swine flu threat left me confused.

Secretary Janet Napolitano stressed the passive nature of people coming in from Mexico:

“…we’re doing, as I said passive surveillance now. Right now we don’t think the facts warrant a more active testing or screening of passengers coming in from Mexico, although obviously we are letting air carriers and our employees at the gates on those flights make sure that they are asking people if they’re sick; and if they’re sick, that they shouldn’t board the plane — you know, that sort of thing, passively.

“But again, this is a changing dynamic that we may increase or decrease that as the facts change over the next 24, 48, 72 hours.”

Question: What haven’t you banned U.S. travel to Mexico and why haven’t you changed the U.S. alert level in the face of this — unless the declaration of public health emergency is doing that?

Dr. (Richard) Besser (Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control):

“I can comment. We have at CDC posted an outbreak notification regarding Mexico, and we’re continuing to watch the situation there and evaluate. And should it be warranted, we would make a change in that regard.

“In terms of the stages and phases of pre-pandemic situations, the real important take-away is that we have an outbreak of a new infectious disease that we’re approaching aggressively. And it matters much less what you call it. Those things are designed to trigger actions, but we trigger our actions based on what we’re seeing here in-country as well as what we see around the globe. And given that this new strain is something we’re experiencing here on the ground, we’re being very aggressive and addressing that based on what we’re seeing in each community.”

Are we prepared?

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The map from Google can be found here. Thanks to the Metro East’s Respublica for pointing me to the site.


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