As a new strain of swine flu appears in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once again takes the lead.
The CDC, based in Atlanta, is uniquely qualified to deal with potential public health crises whether infectious diseases or other challenges. Its epidemiologists and laboratory scientists work in close partnership with colleagues around the world, as they are now, in Mexico, where this H1N1 flu strain first emerged.
Fortunately, we have not had any reported cases of swine flu in North Carolina. But at UNC we are taking the matter very seriously. We are taking extensive precautionary measures to ensure we are prepared to care for patients who might arrive at our doors, and to protect our staff who care for our patients.
The White House and the CDC reported today in a news briefing that each of the 20 people in the United States who contracted the flu has recovered without medical treatment. Basic hygiene practices, such as hand washing, covering your mouth when you sneeze and staying home when you are not feeling well go a long way to controlling the spread of even the most worrisome flu.
I applaud my former colleagues at the CDC, which I directed in the early 1990s, and I wish them the best of luck. They are consummate professionals who work tirelessly to keep the American public safe from threats to their health.