CDC says "worried" about swine flu outbreak

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it was worried about a swine flu outbreak that has killed as many as 60 people in Mexico, sickened 1,000 and made eight Americans ill.

The CDC said people in the United States appear to have the same strain of swine flu, but it is not clear why the U.S. cases have been less severe than those in Mexico.

Here are some comments by CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser from a telephone briefing with reporters :

* “So far there has not been any change in the pandemic threat level. The World Health Organization will be looking at the situation that is occurring in Mexico and will most likely be convening their panel of experts to address that situation.”

* Besser said they will ask: “Is the virus new? Does it cause severe disease? Is it easily transmissible? ... Those are the three factors the WHO will be considering.”

* Besser said the CDC has not yet sent staffers to Mexico. “We are offering support to the Mexican government in terms of epidemiologists and laboratory scientists to help with their investigation.”

* “Understanding who is getting sick in Mexico is critically important,” he said, adding that younger patients getting sick is characteristic of a pandemic.

* He said 7 of 14 Mexican samples had tested positive for the new and unusual strain of H1N1 swine flu.

* Besser said the CDC is working closely with the World Health Organization. “WHO is not at the point of declaring a pandemic. We are trying to learn more about this virus and transmission and how to control it.”

* Besser said the CDC is being “very aggressive” said it was time for people in the United States to think about what to do if this does turn out to be a pandemic.

* “What we expect to be seeing is that people start thinking about their own preparedness. It’s a time where there is a teachable moment and people can take action about preparedness.”

* The United States federal government has a flu plan at http:/ and so does WHO at http:/

Editing by Todd Eastham