Is the U.S. Ready for a Major Flu Outbreak?

Published June 5, 2009

The question is, “Is the U.S. government prepared for a severe outbreak of swine flu?”

While the government was praised for stockpiling vaccines amid the swine flu scare, there are still significant gaps and signs of poor preparation if a more severe outbreak were to occur, according to a newly released study.

What must happen immediately is that the federal government should be continuously updating and restocking the national vaccine stockpile to boost the capacity for vaccine development and production, and reinforcing health care systems, says the study by the Trust for America's Health, the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

The group’s noted that nearly 20,000 cases of the swine flu virus have been confirmed worldwide, with more than half of the cases from the United States. As of Thursday, there have been 11,468 probable and confirmed U.S. cases and 19 deaths from the swine flu virus, also known as H1N1 virus. About 2.5 percent of the cases resulted in hospitalizations, and health officials have warn that the outbreak is not over, with more deaths being reported.

On Wednesday, Connecticut and Michigan both confirmed their first H1N1 deaths; both individuals had underlying illnesses, according to state health authorities. All 50 states have confirmed cases, but flu activity seems to be declining in the nation as a whole, according to the CDC.

Written by BET.com Staff

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