Today the Centers For Disease Control declared a national public health emergency in reaction to an outbreak of swine flu in five states.
At a White House news conference, Dr. Richard Besser and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sought to assure Americans that health officials are taking all appropriate steps to minimize the impact of the outbreak. Top among those is declaring the public health emergency. As part of that, Napolitano said roughly 12 million doses of the drug Tamiflu will be moved from a federal stockpile to places where states can quickly get their share if they decide they need it. Priority will be given to the five states with known cases so far: California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Kansas. Napolitano called the emergency declaration standard operating procedure — one was declared recently for the inauguration and for flooding. She urged people to think of it as a “declaration of emergency preparedness.” “Really that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re preparing in an environment where we really don’t know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be.”
Tamiflu is marketed by Hoffman-La Roche and can have profound psychological side effects including hallucinations, delirium, and suicidal impulses. Thus far no one has died from swine flu in the United States, although Mexico has seen dozens of deaths in recent days.
RELATED: U.S. Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) wants the border with Mexico closed.
“The public needs to be aware of the serious threat of swine flu, and we need to close our borders to Mexico immediately and completely until this is resolved,” Massa said in a statement. “I am making this announcement because I see this as a serious threat to the health of the American public and I do not believe this issue is receiving the attention it needs to have in the news,” Massa said.