During a Senate hearing today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl questioned officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture about efforts to contain and prevent the transmission of swine flu in the United States. Kohl is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over funding for the Food and Drug Administration and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Kohl asked for practical information for the public about the level of concern among health officials about a widespread swine flu outbreak.
Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, MD, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested that people look to local public health authorities for information, since decisions about how to handle and isolate confirmed cases of swine flu will vary from community to community. She also said the CDC has posted on its website guidelines for households about caring for family members in the event of illness.
Kohl also asked whether APHIS has the resources it needs for its role in preventing the spread of swine flu.
"APHIS has the responsibility of monitoring and responding to any outbreaks of animal disease. Their efforts are key to helping us understand and control this flu as it occurs in animals, as well as understanding and relating any potential transmission between animals and humans. I want to make certain that APHIS has the resources, leadership and flexibility to do its jobs during this time of enhanced surveillance," Kohl said at the hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Committee's Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee.
Dr. John Clifford of the USDA indicated that APHIS is coordinating their response with other public health agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.