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May 1st, 2009
03:56 PM ET

Request: Kyra's "CDC lady" interview

A commenter 'kelly' just left us this note:

please upload the video of you interviewing the CDC lady yesterday!!! I need to see it again and its not on youtube. you were pushing her on the issue of calling it swine flu…she was being evasive about the origin and said that it really didnt matter where it came from. OF COURSE it matters where it came from so we can stop it from happening again! Its the pig farms down there and the disgusting inhumane, unsanitary conditions in the farms. They’re trying to protect industry at the cost of human health! I think so many mexicans died becuase of a bacteria issue down there that combined w/ the flu, possibly since they were all complaining about respiratory issues around the farms!

Well, for technical reasons, we weren't able to pull the video. (Sorry!) But we wanted to 'kelly' to get that information. So here's a transcript of Kyra's interview with Dr. Cynthia Whitney, an epidemiologist with the CDC:

KYRA PHILLIPS: All right, Cynthia. Well, let's get right to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Had a chance to talk to him yesterday. We had a bit of a back and forth on whether you call this swine flu or not. This is what he had to say.


TOM VILSACK, U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Well, it shouldn't be called "swine flu." That's the point. It should be called H1N1, which is what basically, technically what it is. It's different strands of viruses and flus. There's a human strand, for example, in this combination. This is a new combination.


PHILLIPS: What is your reaction to that? Do we call it swine flu or not?

WHITNEY: Well, that's a very good question and there's a lot of discussion going on about that right now. And that's - the decision will be coordinated through W.H.O.

PHILLIPS: OK. But the origin of this virus is swine. Even if you look at the CDC Web site, you are still calling it swine flu. It's got some bird. It's got some human. So, the origin is swine, correct?

WHITNEY: Well, part of the virus is similar to what we see typically circulating in swine. So, that's why we originally gave it that name. We are going to participate in this name discussion, and we'll coordinate with World Health Organization on that.

PHILLIPS: OK. Got it. So, it's still kind of up in the air at this point.

WHITNEY: Exactly.

PHILLIPS: All right. Talk to me about the team of investigators from the CDC and also the USDA right now down in Mexico. Have you actually started testing animals to try and trace the potential source of this virus?

WHITNEY: To my knowledge, we have not done that yet.

PHILLIPS: So, what will be the purpose, then, of you being there? Is that the goal, to test the hogs?

WHITNEY: Well, we have a team of investigators that are working on all sorts of the investigation in Mexico. I know we have investigators that are looking at the patients that have become ill, trying to understand the characteristics of their illness and the transmission patterns. I understand we also have people down there in the laboratory, trying to shore up their laboratory testing methods.

PHILLIPS: Are you interested in the hogs as well?

WHITNEY: That's a discussion we'll take with the Mexican authorities and proceed as we should.

PHILLIPS: So, there's a lot of political issues, then, trying to find a happy medium on what you can do and can't do, is that right? Because of the two governments?

WHITNEY: Well, you know, that, but also based on what we're learning down there. If it makes sense, you know, I'm sure that avenue would be pursued.

PHILLIPS: So, let me ask you, as an epidemiologist, are you interested in finding the reservoir, you know, AKA, the infected animal, that could be the source of this virus?

WHITNEY: Well, I think that's a question people are curious about. But at this point, the real concern for us is trying to prevent infections in people. So, at this point our main messages are do what you can to prevent yourself getting sick and preventing others from getting sick. At this point, our main messages are, if you're sick, stay home from work. Don't send your child to school if your child is having symptoms. Wash your hands frequently. And cover your cough with either a tissue or your sleeve. You know, going back to the reservoir of the pigs, at this point is not going to stop the person-to-person transmission.

PHILLIPS: Well, and we're talking about the person transmission - person-to-person transmission right now, but do you see it essential, though, to trace the origin of this in order to figure out how to prevent it from happening again or getting worse at this point? Maybe I should - let me - let me backtrack. Of it happening again. Is it important to find the origin to prevent it from happening again?

WHITNEY: Well, there are all sorts of questions we're investigating, and that may be one of them. I mean, we know from other episodes of Influenza that there has been - have been times when the - in fact, the virus has spread from animals to humans. So that's not out of the question. We already know that.

PHILLIPS: So, how do you figure out what the proper vaccine is?

WHITNEY: Well, what we're doing is evaluating the strains of virus that we've gotten back from patients. We're looking at the characteristics of those viruses, seeing which ones grow up well into this so-called seed strain and selecting the ones that seem most appropriate.

PHILLIPS: So, when you study the virus and you look at the scientific parts that you just mentioned, will that be able to tell you, OK, more than likely this is where it came from? So, let's go back to the source.

WHITNEY: Not - not really. I mean, we know that the virus has some characteristics of viruses that do come from pigs. There's some characteristics of viruses that come from birds. But I don't think we can specifically pinpoint that based on the information we have right now.

PHILLIPS: And I just want to reiterate, 36,000 people in the U.S. die of the regular flu every year. Do you think, within the media, are we adding too much hype to this when you've got so many people that die from the regular flu annually?

WHITNEY: Well, this is a brand new virus. We really don't know how it's going to behave, so I think giving information to the public is really key. The media's helping with that. We're working with our partners to help that. And we're asking people if they have any questions at all, go to and we're posting information there constantly and updating the information.

PHILLIPS: Cynthia Whitney, I sure appreciate your time.

WHITNEY: My pleasure.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. joan

    I am wondering how come the border of CA and Mexica hasn't been closed ???? And US government should have some regulation for those passengers from Mexico to any state. How come government doesn't learn the lessons from Asian countries? (for the SARS cases before)!!

    We are in a very free and easy country... but sometimes, we need some strict regulations to do something. Not only just "advise" or "suggest"....
    who will listen to you ????? Even if the schools are closed... the kids still go around and play? What for???

    And those who travelled to Mexico should quarantine at least 10 days automatically. Otherwise, they don't even know they have the virus or not... just like Hong Kong government quarantine 300 people incase the virus will spread.

    Think something! Do something! people! not just say" we don't know yet..." or just wait for the vaccine.

    May 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  2. kelly

    OH THANK YOU!! :o) Thanks for posting this! It PROVES it to me...I thought I was crazy yesterday when I heard this...but I'm convinced that I'm not. She was being HORRIBLY evasive. They dont want to get to the bottom of it because its politically dangerous. So, they'll sacrifice US instead. Privatize the profits, socialise the losses, right?
    KEEP ON EM KYRA!! Someone's gotta break this BIG and stop the insanity. Its the same reason the barn door is wide open...sure a few horses escaped already, but there are millions more that havent escaped yet. Too bad we dont have leadership that cares about that!
    I've forwarded all this to Erin Brockovich believe it or not lol...we need a pit bull who likes to dig, working on this issue!! We cant let them get away scott free and continue to endanger us!

    May 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  3. kelly

    It is NOT my intention to slam pigs themselves. I actually like(d) pork until this happened and I started looking into factory farming. Its not the PIGS FAULT. Pork is yummy and can be good for you if you dont mistreat the animal and practice safe farming. But we've gone "global" now and everything has to be streamlined and efficent. This causes a lack of care for the "little" things like hygiene and human safety.

    This article is from a few years ago, an expose on factory farms in the US (Smithfield) done by Rolling Stone.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  4. janet

    Why aren't you or anyone talking about building UP people's immune system so they don't and won't get sick? All you are talking about is to cough into your elbow, stay home or they are working on a vaccination. . who pays for the news shows again? Oh yeah, Mr & Mrs Pharmaceutical companies .. I guess this is why there is such a hype and scare about this "so called swine flu" or "the pandemic". Yet pharmaceuticals kill at least 200,000 each year andd some say that only one-tenth are reported.. yet they are still on the market and growing and no one in jail. FDA is putting Hydroxycut out of business today .. OK fine, liver damage.. what about ALL the side effects Rx cause ..even death .. yet nothing is being done. The FDA protects the interests of big pharma .. not the public. Even GMO foods/seeds by Monsanto .. will never be prsosecuted.. heaven forbid any news person/network would report what they're doing, or even any report. . who pays for the FDA's silence?, big pharma! Who pays for the so called jouranlist's silence? .. big pharma. . they write their checks too (advertisers). What if drug a nd chemical companies couldn't advertise on TV, much like what happened to the tobacco industry? Would the stories suddenly change? Would the "experts" opinions suddenly change? Hmm. Will YOU do anything to get these comments & facts (still held in contents, without mocking them) out to the masses? Again don't cover up symtom.. use God given natural substances to help the body cure thyself. The drugs companies will lose some money .. oh well. Look up Merck's CEO comments from 1977 or pick up the book, Selling Sickness and read page one.

    May 2, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  5. kelly

    strange...can you please approve my comments?

    May 2, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  6. Patrick

    Why all the attention to Twitter?
    Especially when there are so many other social networking sites like Facebook, myspace etc.

    Why doesnt CNN do a full disclosure and tell us what financial interests it has in Twitter?


    May 2, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  7. kelly

    thank you :o)

    May 4, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Jo Allen

    For years I have worked with Humane Societies and Animal Rights organizations and still humans cannot see that the way we treat our animals and our environment results in dire consequences. When will we learn to have respect for all God's created life on this earth? When compassion comes for animals and environment then we will see compassion towards each other. How sad it all is that we will never learn because the dollar is more important than life.

    May 5, 2009 at 10:57 am |

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