April 28, 2009
RE: Public Health Emergency Declared
On Sunday, the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration due to the emergency in the United States of the swine influenza virus.
Their press release states that “the formal declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE) is a tool that facilitates HHS' preparation and mobilization for disasters and emergencies. For example, PHEs were recently declared for flooding in North Dakota, the Inauguration, and several 2008 hurricanes.
“The declaration will help HHS prepare for prevention and mitigation activities by enabling Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations of drugs, devices, or medical tests under certain circumstances.
“Specifically, today's PHE will enable the FDA to review and issue emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the use of certain laboratory tests to help detect the newly discovered strain of influenza and for the emergency use of certain antivirals.
“In addition to the declaration, HHS leaders are working together across operating divisions to coordinate response to the swine flu outbreak. For example, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to develop a vaccine precursor that could be used to develop a vaccine for this swine flu virus.
“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.”
The public health emergency declaration is available at www.hhs.gov/secretary/phe_swh1n1mhtml. For information on swine flu, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu. All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.