(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), member of the House Homeland Security Committee, is calling for the “immediate” and “complete” closure of the U.S. border with Mexico until officials in that country can contain the spread of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.
“The public needs to be aware of the serious threat of swine flu, and we need to close our borders to Mexico immediately and completely until this is resolved,” Massa said in a statement posted on his congressional Web site. “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization) are monitoring this situation closely and I call on all Americans to pay attention and follow their instructions as this situation develops. I have complete faith in our medical professionals and look forward to a swift conclusion to this problem.”
Massa criticized the media for its coverage of the outbreak, which led to U.S. officials declaring it a public health emergency on Sunday.
“I am making this announcement because I see this as a serious threat to the health of the American public and I do not believe this issue is receiving the attention it needs to have in the news,” Massa said.
At a press conference at the White House on Sunday, Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief at the CDC, predicted the spread of the disease in the United States.
“As we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease,” Besser said. "We're going to see more severe disease in this country.”
But Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the U.S. reaction to the virus was routine and that Americans should see it as a "declaration of emergency preparedness."
The CDC has identified the strain as type H1N1, a combination of genetic material from pigs, birds and humans. There is currently no vaccine for the new strain, but the WHO reports that initial findings indicate it responds to the antiviral medication Tamiflu.
The influenza death toll in Mexico has risen to 103, the government announced late Sunday, although they have yet to be confirmed as having resulted specifically from the H1N1 strain.
Massa’s statement said nothing about the U.S. northern border, despite six confirmed cases of swine flu in Canada, according to the Canadian Press, or the possibility that people infected with swine flu can enter the U.S. on planes or aboard boats and ships.
CNSNews.com International Editor Patrick Goodenough contributed to this report.