20 confirmed cases of human infection to date in US

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration in response to recent human infections with a newly discovered strain of swine flu.

The state of emergency will enable the FDA to review and issue authorisations for the use of certain laboratory tests and for the emergency use of certain antivirals.

‘HHS is taking these steps today to be proactive in responding to this new influenza virus by offering national tools in support of community-led preparedness and response efforts,’ acting HHS Secretary Charles Johnson said.

‘The declaration allows us the flexibility, while we learn more about the virus and its impact in the United States, to take additional steps to fully mobilize our prevention, treatment and mitigation capabilities should those actions become necessary.’

To date, there have been 20 confirmed cases of swine Influenza A (swH1N1) in California, Texas, Kansas, New York, and Ohio. No deaths in the US have been reported due to the illness. Additional cases of the virus have been confirmed in Mexico and Canada.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans; however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.