US taking `all necessary precautions' on swine flu

May 2, 2009 4:14:32 PM PDT
President Barack Obama said Saturday that the U.S. is taking "all necessary precautions" to be prepared if the swine flu develops into "something worse" and spoke to Mexico's president about how to keep the flu strain from spreading. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the U.S. is taking "all necessary precautions" to be prepared if the swine flu develops into "something worse" and spoke to Mexico's president about how to keep the flu strain from spreading. Swine flu, or H1N1 flu as the government prefers to call it, has caused only one confirmed death in the United States. But medical authorities fear the flu could become much worse, Obama said, and that's why he has thrown substantial federal resources into the campaign against it.

Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke for 20 minutes Saturday "to share information about each country's efforts to limit the spread of the 2009 H1N1 flu strain and the importance of close U.S.-Mexican cooperation," the White House said.

A White House official said Calderon had requested the conversation, mainly to ensure continued cooperation between the two countries in combatting the virus. The conversation was friendly and productive, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House had not authorized releasing more details.

"This is a new strain of the flu virus, and because we haven't developed an immunity to it, it has more potential to cause us harm," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"Unlike the various strains of animal flu that have emerged in the past, it's a flu that is spreading from human to human. This creates the potential for a pandemic, which is why we are acting quickly and aggressively."

The virus, which has claimed far more victims in Mexico than elsewhere, has not proved as potent in the U.S. "We cannot know for certain why that is, which is why we are taking all necessary precautions in the event that the virus does turn into something worse," he said.

He recapped his administration's efforts. They include asking schools with confirmed cases of the flu virus to close for up to 14 days; urging employers to let infected workers take all the sick days they need; and reminding Americans to wash their hands often, cover their coughs and stay home if ill.

Obama noted that the flu strain "can be defeated by a course of antiviral treatment that we already have on hand." One-fourth of the nation's 50 million courses of the treatment have been distributed to states, he said.

Obama has asked Congress for $1.5 billion to buy more medicine and equipment if needed.

"It is my greatest hope and prayer that all of these precautions and preparations prove unnecessary," the president said. "I would sooner take action now than hesitate and face graver consequences later."

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On the Net:

White House: www.whitehouse.gov

RELATED INFORMATION:

FAQs about swine flu
Additional swine flu resources
Transcript of 6abc.com's swine flu chat with local experts

RELATED LINKS:

CDC Swine Flu site
World Health Organization

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Swine flu cases around the world

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