CA's public health head downplays pandemic

April 29, 2009 7:58:45 PM PDT
California's public health officer is downplaying the rise in the pandemic alert level. Dr. Mark Horton says level five accurately describes the level of the outbreak, but he says it is no different than what is seen during a more normal flu season.

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Horton told reporters a pandemic level 5 does not mean California health officials have to be doing anything more than they already are.

"We feel we are taking all the appropriate actions to deal with a level five pandemic level, we fill this message is primarily directed toward other countries," Horton said.

Horton defended the increased level of concern over this flu, because it is a strain never seen before.

"To our knowledge, no human being has ever been exposed to this particular virus," Horton said.

Horton raises serious questions about how easily the virus is moving from one person to the next and how strong is it. In Mexico it is a killer, but in the U.S. most of the swine flu cases have been mild.

"I think it is probably the question that is most on the minds of the Centers for Disease Control right now; we have been working they have been working very closely with the authorities in Mexico," Horton said.

Horton says California is preparing by ordering 1.3 million of doses of antiviral medications from the federal stockpile, on top of 3.7 million already on hand.

At Wednesday's news conference, Horton said those doses are being stockpiled around the state, but they are still discussing who will get them, the elderly and the most at risk, or medical workers or first responders like police and fire fighters.

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