Tags: cdc | european | travel

CDC Chief: European U.S. Travel Warning Wrong

Monday, 27 Apr 2009 01:51 PM

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The top US disease control official rejected as unwarranted Monday an EU warning that appeared to call on Europeans to avoid travel to the United States and Mexico due to the swine flu outbreak.

"At this point, I would not put out a travel restriction or recommendation against coming to the United States," said Richard Besser, acting head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Besser was responding to a statement earlier Monday by EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou recommending that Europeans avoid unnecessary travel to areas hit by the swine flu outbreak.

"Personally, I would try to avoid non-essential travel to the areas which are reported to be in the center of the cluster," she said.

Vassiliou did not specifically mention the United States, but the swine flu outbreak has been centered in Mexico and has caused 20 confirmed cases across the border in the United States, the second hardest-hit country so far.

She said the precaution was necessary "in order to minimize the personal risk and to reduce of the potential risk to spread the infection to other people," she added.

But Besser disagreed, saying "I don't think that's warranted."

"At this point, we've identified 20 cases of swine influenza in this country," he said on CNN television.

"Thankfully all of those people have recovered, only one of those people has required hospitalization."

But Besser added that officials expected more severe cases and "possibly deaths" to surface in the United States.

US authorities on Sunday declared a public health emergency in response to the flu outbreak, but called the measure "standard operating procedure" in order to free up federal, state, and local resources for efforts to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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