The United States will purchase an additional 13 million antiviral treatments to help ward off swine flu and plans to send 400,000 of the treatments to Mexico, officials said.
"The 13 million additional treatment courses that we will purchase will allow us to replenish our national stockpile and further ensure we are prepared to provide the American people with the treatments they may need to stay healthy," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
Advertisement"Today HHS began moving 400,000 treatment courses to Mexico to help stop the spread of the virus. The 400,000 courses represent less than one percent of the total American stockpile," she said.
The 251-million-dollar purchase replaces 11 million treatment courses the government has already offered to US states and buys an additional two million courses.
The move ensures the United States resupplies and boosts its approximately 50 million courses of antiviral drugs in the "Strategic National Stockpile."
Stockpiles in individual states hold an additional 23 million treatment courses.
Sebelius explained the move to send a small fraction of treatments to Mexico by saying that "flu viruses don't stop at the border, and it is imperative we do whatever we can to slow the spread of the virus and help stop this outbreak."
The infection rate is slowly rising across the United States and other countries nearly a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alert about the flu outbreak in Mexico.
The number of swine flu cases in the United States rose Thursday to 118 across 15 states, with New Jersey and Colorado the latest to battle the virus.
So far only one person, a Mexican boy visiting relatives in Texas, has died in the United States. He remains the only fatality outside Mexico, where at least 12 people have died.
"Prioritized states are now receiving antivirals," Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said at the daily influenza briefing Thursday.
A vaccine is taken to prevent a disease from occurring. An antiviral is taken after someone already has become sick.