Stop Being Paranoid About Swine Flu Paranoia

I’ve been seeing a lot of paranoia about swine flu concern around the internets. You know, people making fun of other people for being concerned about a possible global pandemic.

Why not just let people be concerned — they might have good reason. Why not let them wear masks without ridiculing them? It’s not hurting anyone, and may in fact be helping us.

Applying social pressure not to be concerned seems foolish, because it could lead to more infection.

Lest anyone not see the need for concern, let me remind you of the 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu:

The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually virulent and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1.

Does that sound familiar? It should, as that’s what the swine flu is (Influenza A H1N1). The 1918 flu pandemic infected a billion people — half the world’s population — and killed anywhere from 20 to 100 million people. That’s more than double the number killed in WWI.

The Spanish flu also primarily killed healthy young adults, whereas normal flu affects mostly infants and the elderly. Guess what the swine flu also primarily kills? That’s right, healthy young adults.

I’m not saying this will be a pandemic, but the potential is there. Thus it’s not silly or stupid to be concerned about this. We should be concerned, because if we can prevent a pandemic, shouldn’t we try?

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  • elflocko

    Here’s a quick and easy test:

  • Steven Capsuto

    The 1918 pandemic occurred before the development of penicillin and the other antibiotics we now take for granted. As the Director General of the World Health Organization recently noted, these days the deadliness of this type of flu outbreak is largely a function of whether you live in a developing country or an affluent one, and how easily you can access medical care.

    There’s no harm in people washing their hands often, and if people want to wear masks, let ’em. I get more worried when you see governments doing irrational things like ordering wholesale slaughtering of a country’s pigs, just because the common name of the disease happens to contain the word “swine.”

  • Steven Capsuto

    Come to think of it… antibiotics are irrelevant, since this is a virus.

    • Proto

      Not entirely, antibiotics can be used against bacterial infections which would otherwise weaken the patients immune system and/or health.

      There’s also antiviral drugs.

  • jim jacks

    iyes history i repeating.

    get a load of this scary Report.

  • I fully agree. There is not reason for widespread panic, but we all need to be smart and take the proper precautions.

    The only thing that I find interesting is how Christians rationalize this outbreak forcing them to cancel church service or denying communion. Here is a new article:

    Why would their god allow a deadly flu virus to spread through communion wine?

    • professoryackle

      And according to the Left Behind Trib Force movie, the communion wine kills the virus anyway.

    • Daniel Florien

      FYI, I’ve tried to reply to your email a few times and I keep getting a return to sender. Looks like your domain email has been down for a while.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Does that sound familiar? It should, as that’s what the swine flu is (Influenza A H1N1).

    Is this the same strain of H1N1 responsible for the 1918 pandemic? No.

    Preliminary analysis of the swine flu virus suggests it is a fairly mild strain, scientists say.

    Enhanced vigilance? Sure. Preparation? Sure. Panic with immediate border closings which will have serious impact on an already reeling world economy? No thanks.

    • Well said, Reginald.

      But I also agree with Daniel. If someone wants to wear a mask, it can’t hurt…

      And closing schools for a week or two isn’t going to cause irreparable damage to the kids’ education or anything.

      • Daniel Florien

        If schools are anything like when I went, most kids will probably learn more with them being closed…

        Oh that was harsh, I know. Sorry teachers! I should say, based on my reading of Outliers, that the middle and upper class kids will learn more. Not the lower class. :)

        • LRA

          Actually Daniel, that has a ton to do with parents. You can give a lower class kid the best teacher in the world, but if they refuse to do the work and their parents don’t care, then what can we do?

          • Daniel Florien

            Hmm — add another cell to the county jail just in case?

            • LRA

              Aw. Well I tried for a year to reach gang kids. I tried everything you can imagine– from tap dancing to doing a budget on minimum wage. They didn’t want it. Their parents didn’t care either. My hands were tied. I can’t tie them to a chair and force them to learn.

      • Hallie

        Well considering the are already sources saying that the masks don’t protect then I should say it can hurt.

        But then again this could be a rumor as I’m not sure who these sources are as I heard it from a coworker and several other people in a panic over this.

        I say do what you can to prevent from spreading it and when you first start to feel like you’re getting the flu go to the doctor then stay home and away from people for two weeks if you’ve got it. Other than that don’t sweat it. We’ve got medicine, it’s not a really deadly thing when it happens in a well developed country.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    People make bad decisions when they are frightened. Exhibit A: the Bush administration.

    • Sock

      Yeah. When I was first told about Swine Flu, the person who told me about it saying things like “omg so scary!”, she linked me to a Faux Noise report on it.

      I didn’t even read it, just skimmed it. Told her that Faux Noise isn’t a trustworthy source, that I watch too much MSNBC to ever think that anything on Faux Noise isn’t opinionated and a business strategy or politically motivated fear/hate speech. Of course, I don’t trust MSNBC to be unbiased either, so I just went middle of the road and asked her to look up CNN for me.

      I read the report from CNN, and you know what? So did she. And she wasn’t worried anymore.

      • Sock

        Oops. Replied to the wrong one. Meh.

  • There is legitimate reason to fear Swine flu. There is no legitimate reason to use it to fuel already existing bigotry toward Mexicans. Hate won’t prevent Swine flu, or any other ailment, real or imagined.

    When the Swine Flu outbreak happened, Fox news chose not to focus on facts, but on rumor and bigotry. Instead of having scientific professionals from the CDC or WHO give intelligent information about how to prevent getting this dangerous flu, or how to report or treat it, they immediately went to what they do best: bigotry. Swine flu is real, and it is dangerous. People need facts to save their lives, not propaganda.

    Fox “news” stories focussed on the rumor that a small child from Mexico “brought it into the United States”, despite the fact that there is evidence to the contrary. Yes, a little toddler from Mexico did die from this horrible disease, but blaming it on this child’s family during their grief is unconscionable, especially when there is evidence the outbreak has been traced to New Zealand!

    Fox News pundits used this baby’s death to stir the immigration pot AGAIN, using such emotionally-charged and bigoted words as “illegals” (newsflash — human beings are not “illegals”. Illegal is an adjective, not a noun, folks! Stop dehumanizing immigrants from Mexico by calling them “illegals”).

    If that wasn’t enough, they implied President Barack Obama had something to do with the appearance of, and spread of this flu! Countless Fox “news” reports alluded to the proximity of people who caught Swine Flu to the physical proximity of the President of the United States! Unbelievable!

    It is said those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. During the Black Plague, Jews were scapegoated, like Mexicans are now.

    Fox News is anything but news. It is a racist, evil propaganda machine, deliberately causing hate and prejudice in our world, for the benefit of its soul-less corporate investors who benefit financially under Republican policies.

    Want to prevent the very real, very deadly spread of Swine Flu? Wash your hands much more often, avoid crowds, eat right, get enough rest, and wash your produce after you bring it home from the store. Keep surfaces clean. If you get sick, stay home until you are 100% well.

    But don’t hate. According to the CDC and WHO, hate doesn’t help.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      When the Swine Flu outbreak happened, Fox news chose not to focus on facts, but on rumor and bigotry.

      Why should they change their strategy for one event?

      • Well, during the presidential inaguration, they wasted plenty of time talking about how nice Michelle Obama looked. It’s hard to find that bigotted or rumorous. Lol.

        • Custador

          Anything but compliment Obama…

  • Flea

    Evidence, evidence! Show me evidence!

    Your “sound familiar” argument could be used to justify anything. It sounds a lot like old Pascal’s wager to me.

    Fear is very useful for many people. People use it to make money, to gain power… (put your favorite example here).

    And I don’t think the “potential” argument is very strong either. (Here I cannot help recalling the “pro-life” nuts with an analogous argument…)

    The pertinent question should be: What are (real) scientists saying? (Not politicians, not media, not bloggers, etc.). Let’s act according to that. Maybe laughing is the right choice here! :-)

    • Daniel Florien

      I think the evidence is that (1) it exists, (2) it is killing people, (3) it is spreading, (4) it has the potential to spread further, and (5) similar strains have killed millions of people.

      This isn’t like a religious argument where you never get past #1.

      Again, hopefully we’re overblowing it and everything will be fine. But the reason health officials are watching this is because it has the potential to be scary.

      I agree it’s not scary yet. I just don’t think we should be putting social pressure on those who want to be concerned and take good precautions. What’s the point of that other than possibly making things worse?

      • Flea

        There are seasonal flu outbreaks that appear each year and they also: 1. Exist. 2. Kill people. 3. Spread. 4. Had the potential to spread further.

        All I say is that we should ask the scientists and researchers (for example: How many people do the seasonal flu outbreaks killed last year compared to this one?) and ascertain weather this outbreak is as important as the media tells us.

        (I am sick and tired of media made paranoia; and maybe I am being a bit oversensitive here…)

        • Slurms

          I think the kicker here is, H1N1 has a violent history. Right now its being fought off by peoples immune system so its not the huge scare people are making it out to be, so I agree with you that there is a degree of media paranoia. But If it changes to a new strain which is harder to fight off, we could be looking at a serious pandemic seeing as we have no vaccine (at least not that im aware of).

        • dr.R.

          (1) this particular variant is new so there is no immunity in the human population; (2) it can be transferred from human to human (bird flu never got to that stage); (3) the mortality rate is still unclear, but there are indications it can also kill normal, healthy people, this unlike the normal seasonal flu viruses.

          Reason enough to be vigilant. We’re much better prepared for a pandemic than 90 years ago, but it doesn’t come automatically.

          Oh, and don’t watch CNN.

        • Custador

          Flea is “sick and tired”! MUST BE SWINE FLU! Quick, call the WHO and the CDC!

    • Matthew

      Flea, I agree that we shouldn’t just discard reason and make decisions based on fear, however, I’m of the thinking that taking precautions with this is better than not. I’m really not qualified to evaluate how dangerous this flu virus is, but the number of deaths in Mexico shouldn’t be ignored. We don’t know why that many people died in Mexico as compared to the relative lack of lethality demonstrated in the United States, but that means we don’t really understand how dangerous is it yet. I take that to mean it is reasonable for people to be cautious though I can’t imagine justifying mandatory inoculations or massive border closings right now (it’s already inside the border, after all).

      I think there is an appropriate middle ground between blind panic and barricading your family at home vs. pretending that there’s nothing wrong. That said, if someone is going to take more extreme precautions than I feel like taking myself, I’m all for it as long as I’m not forced to take risks (like vaccinations) against my own judgment. Just as vaccinations protect those who don’t even get them, their preventative measures may well save me and mine if it turns out this is truly dangerous, and they don’t hurt me in any way if it’s not.

    • Devysciple

      Funny, Pascal’s Wager was the first thing that came to my mind as well…

      There are tons of potentially deadly pathogens out there, so why would I bother with a particular one. Fifty or 100 years ago people wouldn’t even have noticed the outbreak anywhere else than where it actually happened. Of course wearing masks and washing hands usually has no grave negative effects. But the chance of getting hit by a car is still several orders of magnitude higher than catching that flu. Does that mean we should leave the house only properly cushioned?!

      Let’s face it, we won’t get out of here alive! ;)

      • Slurms

        it was noticed 89 years ago

        • Devysciple

          I was not referring to a global pandemic with millions of deaths, but to a rather insulated outbreak in a country far away. That would have gone unnoticed (and it wouldn’t have spread over a dozen countries because we were lacking the fast means of transportation).

          For all we know, the swine/mexican flu is a rather mild strain, at least if you are living in a country with state-of-the-art medical care. I’m much more worried about this virus spreading to developing countries. There it could possibly do massive damage, as cholera, malaria, and other are already doing.

          There’s always a miniscule chance that it mutates into something far more aggressive, but as I already said, there are dozens of more likely ways to kick the bucket than catching that particular strain of influenza virus.

          • Slurms

            No doubt, the fear (I presume) is that it is what if the strain changes and becomes more lethal and goes south of Mexico…or maybe starts spreading though China and its neighbors.

  • I agree people should be aware and even wary. But like Nancy, I’ve heard some real rubbish in regards to the outbreak. The big one was from a conspiracy theorist who thinks the virus was released in a way to push through legislation for a national health care. To be honest it’s outright comedic, especially the part where actors will have and use WMD. These are the folks I cringe and want to smack around a bit to stop them being so hysterical.

  • Dr. Kate

    What I find particularly ironic (maybe that’s not the right word) is that regular old seasonal ‘flu kills something on the order of 30,000 people every year in the U.S. Swine flu has thus far killed 100 people total, as far as I know. And yet we don’t close schools every year for the flu. We didn’t even close schools last year, when the flu was particularly nasty (I didn’t personally get it, but I knew people who did–healthy adults–and it took them down for two weeks). That’s not to say we shouldn’t be closing schools now–only that maybe we should have been then, and should in the future.

    And Steven, from what I understand, a lot of ‘flu mortality–especially in susceptible populations–comes from secondary bacterial infections, such as pneumonia. So chances are, if we’d had antibiotics in 1918, there would have been fewer deaths from that flu epidemic. Antibiotics don’t treat the flu itself, but they can be lifesavers if you get secondary bacterial pneumonia.

    • dr.R.

      …regular old seasonal ‘flu kills something on the order of 30,000 people every year in the U.S. Swine flu has thus far killed 100 people total.

      That’s because this new variant has not even spread to 30,000 people. Not yet, maybe.

    • I’m deeply weary of that factoid. Talk about viral! I don’t know who said it first but I hear it everywhere. “36,000 Americans die of flu every year,” with the gist of it being so why don’t we hear about that?

      In fact, only a few hundred people die of flu every year. The rest die of pneumonia which they get after being sick with the flu. Of those, about 90% are over 65. So it’s not a fair point to make. Not all people are at equal risk. That’s like saying, oh, 5000 people die each year from eating potato chips, when 3 would die from choking on chips, & the other 4997 die from heart disease from snorking chips, frosting from a can, & spam & banana sundaes.

  • The Wrath of Oliver Khan

    And now it seems that a lot of the deaths attributed to swine flu in Mexico were actually not related to swine flu …

    So maybe it’s not spreading as quickly as we have been led to believe.

    I do think it’s dangerous to get too worked up over every single potential health scare that comes along. But still, someone wants to wear a mask because it makes them feel safer, who cares?

  • Flea

    A funny (?) note to this episode: Ray “Banana Man” Comfort has written a delicious piece about this issue; he knows the solution to the problem:
    “The great hope for this fallen, diseased, weatherworn world, is the return of Christ, who has promised to bring restoration, everlasting health and peace to all people.”
    But unfortunately we, evil evolutionists, are in trouble because:
    “…for evolutionists, this cannot be a part of their thinking, because it leads them into the first chapters of Genesis. They would rather believe a silly lie than acknowledge Biblical truth.”
    Praise the Lord!

    • Flea
      • Mike

        “If schools are anything like when I went, most kids will probably learn more with them being closed…”

        Except for people like me who have fucking IB finals next week and they might end up being postponed or canceled because of this, in which case they’d use previous exam grades which are not an accurate portrayal of what most people would have gotten. It could very seriously cost me my university entry.

        I agree that it’s not good to underestimate this, but at the same time a lot of hysteria is greatly overexaggerated. Seasonal flu kills about 13,000 in the US, yet you don’t see everybody going apeshit over stuff like that. The WHO has confirmed only 13 deaths from the swine flu, but despite that they’ve raised the alert phase to 5 – so, sure, we ought to be concerned, but comparisons to the Spanish flu are unwarranted.

        Masks are a different point entirely. While it is definitely a good thing that most people are wearing masks, as it prevents carriers from sneezing it into the atmosphere, it does not help the mask carriers. I’m not saying people shouldn’t wear masks, but many seem prone to believe that their masks are helping them, which they aren’t.

  • Custador

    I’ll be nursing on a medical ward for the next 6 weeks, and the general consensus is: Move along, nothing to see here. I’m not saying that people won’t get it – some might – but everybody who does have it in the UK is responding very well to antiviral medication, and we currently have a stock of 30,000,000 doses of a vaccine which is effective against H1N1. They’re aiming to build up a stock of 50,000,000 doses within the next few days (by the way, the population of the UK is about 60,000,000) so that if the WHO cranks us up to alert level six, we’ll be vaccinating everybody in good time. This is when people stop bitching about the National Health Service.

    You’re right, of course, that hand washing can’t be a bad thing (although unless you’re trained how to do it properly, it’s almost completely ineffective – use alcohol rubs instead) and that face-masks can’t hurt.

    What I object to, though, is the media feeding frenzy that surrounds this kind of thing. They whip up panic to sell newspapers, and it’s nonsense. Take avian flu (another H1N1 strain, by the way) – it’s NOT that contagious because it doesn’t survive long enough outside of the human body, and the UNTREATED death rate of it is about 2% of infected people (and that 2% constitute the most immune compromised who’d probably be dying pretty soon anyway).

    So, while I don’t mock people for paranoia, I do urge them to get a sense of perspective. This is a condition that we can both vaccinate against and easily treat. Unless you’re in a third-world nation, you really aren’t going to have a problem.

    • Zarathustra

      I agree with you, especially on the hand-washing point. The medical community can certainly handle swine flu, which, as far as I have been able to tell, is no worse than the normal flu.

      Also, I get angry that the media ‘cries wolf’ about these rather minor outbreaks of not too terrible diseases (at least as far as the developed world is concerned). If we were to have a real problem like a smallpox outbreak, then we need to take every possible precaution. I am concerned that if we keep causing an uproar about things like avian and swine flu, people won’t take the really scary diseases seriously.

      Sure, wear a mask if you want to. You may look a little silly, but that’s what happens when you wear a mask. If I was in any way concerned that swine flu might give me more than a really nasty flu, i may wear one too. But as it stands, I am pretty sure i would hardly notice if I caught it.

      • Custador

        It’s like MRSA. Its full name is Methacilin Resistant Stapholococus Aureus. What the tabloid press don’t tell you is that your skin is covered with stapholococus aureus all of the time. It’s normal skin flora – you can’t get rid of it short of irradiating your whole body (which would kill you too, obviously). It’s only a problem if it gets inside of your body, for example into a wound. They’re turning a normal part of our symbiotic bacterial menagery into some kind of demon. It’s pure bullshit.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    With the exception of Joe Biden, I think the current administration has handled this situation properly.

  • elflocko

    Am I horrible for thinking we’re well overdue for a good pandemic\plague anyway?

    • Daniel Florien

      Yes. :)

    • Custador

      No. It’s true; we’re two years overdue. These things come in cycles.

      • Francesc

        lol, God forgot our rendez-vous with the plague

  • MahouSniper

    I have nothing wrong with people being concerned, but when the news starts putting up banners like “Is this the next Black Death?” I start to get a little pissed. This is the year 2009. We have the technology to replace your heart with another person’s and keep you alive after your brain has died. I’m pretty sure we can find a cure for this before it infects the world.

    • If the news didn’t exaggerate, no one would bother watching it ;)

    • Daniel Florien

      I would like to agree, but we’ve been trying to find a cure for AIDS for 30 years, with no cure in sight.

      • Custador

        AIDS is an interesting virus to study. The problem is not finding antivirals, it’s making new ones as fast as the AIDS virus evolves…

        • Caitlin

          Just so we’re all clear, AIDS is not a virus. AIDS is the name for a patient’s condition once HIV has thoroughly wreaked havoc on the body and opportunistic infections have set in. What constitutes AIDS is at least somewhat arbitrary and varies from individual to individual.

          • Custador

            Well, yes, but it’s still known as “the AIDS virus”.

            • xy

              which is incorrect. AIDS tells you right in its name that it’s a syndrome, not a virus, whereas HIV tells you that it is the virus.

              and it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it sucks.

            • Caitlin

              The AIDS virus is HIV, but there’s a difference between saying “the AIDS virus” and “AIDS is a virus.” I agree that HIV evolves quickly (AIDS does not), but influenza is notoriously unstable as well, so I think that the comparison Daniel was making still applies.

            • Yoav

              HIV pause a different challenge since it integrate into the host genome which mean that unless we find a way to kill every single infected cell (without killing the patient) it will always be there however the drugs we have now can keep it at bay for decades so if you’re one of those lucky few who have access to healthcare then you can live with it without actually developing AIDS. HIV is also easier to contain because it only transmitted in body fluids. Theoretically with education about safe sex (and with the church not fighting against the use of condoms) and with continued testing of blood transfusion etc HIV could be eradicated. Influenza is a different story. It is an agile little bugger that can mix and match pieces of different genomes when different viruses infect the same host which is how you get those hybrids like swine flu. Like people were saying before be aware monitor the situation but don’t start panicking as it’s usually a sure way to turn a small problem into a full scale disaster.

        • check out
          It’s a scientist who goes into the jungle & attempts to identify the next viruses getting ready to make the jump to humans, then human to human. Cause waiting until it’s in our population is too late, as we’ve seen with aids.

      • Sock

        I don’t think that “no cure is in sight” is very accurate.

        Magic Johnson has been dealing with HIV for almost two decades now. As far as I know, he’s still in great shape all considered. So while he hasn’t been cured, modern science -has- found a way to tame it. The problem then become in making it affordable.

        • Custador

          That really isn’t true, and it’s an unfortunate side-effect of the increasing effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs. Let me explain that a bit better…

          I frequently encounter people, particularly young people, who honestly think that there is already a cure for HIV. A lot of them know somebody who has the virus and who shows no symptoms, no signs of being ill. What they don’t see is the huge and expensive cocktail of drugs which is helping to keep them that way.

          More importantly, they don’t realise that, while the drugs will prolong an HIV sufferer’s life, they won’t cure it. That person is still going to die very young (and usually very painfully) of an AIDS related infection.

  • xy

    Facts about the 1918 flu outbreak: The world was recovering from a major conflict, so there were plenty of people with weakened immune systems. Hygiene was not nearly on the same level it is today. Major breakthroughs in medical science, such as antibiotics and antivirals, had not happened yet.

    with this knowledge we can expect the current H1N1 swine flu to not be nearly as serious as the 1918 flu. i’m not saying that it won’t kill a bunch of people, but so far it’s mortality rate is pretty low in comparison. Just take precautions such as washing your hands every few hours and carrying alcohol gel and everything should be fine.

    Now if the H5N1 avian flu starts to transmit person-to-person, we are all screwed. It’s mortality rate in humans is much greater.

    • dr.R.

      Oh, carrying alcohol helps? Then I should be safe! ;-)

    • Slurms

      Only problem with what you said above is regarding the immune system. The 1918 strain had a high death rate in young adults, those who had better immune systems. Most of the deaths came via Cytokine storm.

      But tottaly agree with the fact that our global medical systems are far superior than what they were 90 years ago.

  • Custador

    Well, if you contracted it and you haven’t had flu in a while it could make you pretty ill – just not if you’re in a first world country. It responds to standard antiviral medication that every hospital keeps a stock of as a matter of course.

  • dr.R.

    So, it’s OK if I keep my mask on while watching the internets?

  • Fear Monger

    Here is the most recent information from the World Health Organization website

    According to other sources, there have been 16 confirmed deaths in Mexico attributed to the so-called “swine flu”, and there are 397 confirmed cases (cases, not deaths…most of those people will likely survive).

    Most of those who have died probably did not have quick or easy access to high-quality healthcare services, and probably had immune systems which weren’t in perfect condition to begin with due to the extreme level of poverty in many parts of Mexico. Under those circumstances it would not be surprising that even individuals in the prime of their lives (20s-40s) would be susceptible to succumbing to infection.

    In the US, there has been ONE death (a 23 month old boy), and there are currently about 100 cases (again, the vast majority of these people will likely survive).

    Each year in the United States alone, upwards of 30,000 people die from the NORMAL flu without any fanfare whatsoever from the media, other than the typical “get your flu shot” reports.

    So, yes, I find the idea of shutting down borders, wearing masks, killing hundreds of thousands of pigs, and otherwise running around like it’s the second coming of Cthulhu worthy of ridicule at this time. None of this does anything to prevent you from becoming infected with anything. This is just another media-generated frenzy designed to increase ad revenue.

    Your chances of dying from the normal yearly flu are several orders of magnitude higher than your chances of dying from swine flu. So far the mortality rate of swine flu is significantly lower than the mortality rate of the normal flu. If you want to avoid getting either of them then by all means please wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze, but otherwise carry on as normal and try to ignore the fear mongering.

    • dr.R.

      So far the mortality rate of swine flu is significantly lower than the mortality rate of the normal flu.

      1 death on 109 infections in the US is actually a very high mortality rate – a usual flu epidemic has a mortality rate in the order of 0.1%. Please do not confuse a small number of infections so far with a low impact.

      Also, I don’t find it comforting that people with access to good health care might be ‘safe’. A large number of people on this planet do not have access to such facilities. But of course it’s very nice for you from your safe western enclave to say that the rest of the world shouldn’t complain so much.

      • Custador

        I don’t think anybody has said that, however I think it’s perfectly valid to say that in the Western world people are having a needless tizzy about something that’s not going to do them any harm whatsoever. Do you know what happened to the most recent victim in the UK? His doctor sent him home with some Tamiflu and told him to stay indoors and away from other people for a week. He even did an interview with the BBC about how he didn’t feel as bad as when he’d had flu earlier in the year.

        Immune compromised people in third-world countries will suffer. Feel free to have pitty for them and help out if you can – however don’t pitch a bitch about how terrible this thing will be from the comfort of a first-world armchair!

      • Fear Monger

        And the Spanish Flu (which the media is attempting to make people think this is) killed between 2% and 20% of those infected. So what?

        As one would expect, the mortality rate would be skewed slightly higher in the beginning of an outbreak when you’re dealing with such ridiculously low numbers of infections (again, we’re dealing with a couple of hundred cases of mild flu, not millions). This is due to the fact that the infection tends to infect and kill the individuals with the weakest immune systems first. If this flu was something to be seriously concerned about, a full fifth of the people infected would already be dead, not less than 1% (and dropping).

        Before you begin browbeating people with your ultra liberal sensitivities from the comfort of your suburban McMansion and bleating on about how inconsiderate they are for pointing out that people in third world countries often have substandard healthcare systems, you may wish to consider the facts.

        • Aor

          I think your last paragraph is more akin to brow beating than anything Dr. R. had to say. While I agree with your central point, once you go off calling people ultra liberal for having opinions you don’t agree with you make yourself look like an reactionary idiot.

        • dr.R.

          ultra liberal sensitivities… suburban McMansion… bleating … you may wish to consider the facts.

          Quite impressive how you fail to live up to your own norm in the same sentence. Is this how you usually ‘consider the facts’?

          • Fear Monger

            Good job proving my point by whining your poor little bleeding hearts out rather than addressing anything I said.

            What’s that siren sound? Oh it’s the waaaaaaaaaaaambulance coming for you. LOL!

            • Fear Monger

              Oh and by the way, how’s that pandemic working out for you? Millions of people dead yet? No? Sick? No? Well there must at least be many thousands sick and many more becoming sick every day, right? Oh, there’s not? But the number of deaths is increasing now isn’t it? No? What? You mean the number of deaths is actually declining?? Oh. hmmm. Strange…

              Well, don’t worry. I’m sure there will be another imminent apocalypse for you to spread fear and misinformation about. At the very least there’s always 2012!

            • Daniel Florien

              Did anyone here say there is a pandemic right now? Please quote them if so. I don’t remember anyone claiming that.

            • Aor

              By the way, Fear Monger… whining is when a person (and I hesitate to call you a person) complains in a childish fashion. For example, calling anyone who disagrees with you a liberal just for having an opinion. That would be whining, get it whiner? You had a valid point, and a fairly well presented one.. then you went off like an ignorant little brat. You display an inability to deal with rational disagreement in an adult way. You respond as a child does… with over the top crying complaining and whining. Naturally you don’t admit to it, like you don’t admit to brow beating others while accusing them of brow beating you. That would be an adult thing to do, and you don’t have it in you. What you have instead is a need to imagine that everyone who disagrees with you must have some massive left wing reason to do so, rather than you just being an ignorant fuckwad.

              Go back to the kiddie pool, you are out of your depth.

  • Jabster

    There’s a god article about this on Bad Science, which is worth a read if only for the use of term aporkalypse …

  • LKL

    The problem with overblown panic is that it drives people to ask for health care that they do not actually need, which then slows or prevents health care for the people who really need it. The hospital I work at has been absolutely swamped since Tuesday, and people are wanting to wear n95 masks (for TB) when a surgical mask that prevents droplets from being inhaled (or sprayed 20 feet when one sneezes) are perfectly adequate in a county where the nearest confirmed case is hundreds of miles away. We don’t *have* enough n95 masks for everyone, and the next time we get a TB patient the HCPs who work with that person might face exposure to a disease that they would otherwise have been protected from.
    People get so worked up that they have mild fevers (~99F) and then want us to swab them and send the samples to the CDC. The state health dept. has test kits on backorder because so many people want to be tested, and that’s with test criteria that throws away samples from anyone with a fever of less than 100F, or no flu-like symptoms, or no contact with known carriers or travel to Mexico. Despite those criteria, some doctors are succumbing to panicked patients and collecting H1N1 test samples on them in the same way that they sometimes prescribe antibiotics to people with viral sore throats – it shuts them up and gets them out of the clinic. Explaining that the news media are blowing hot air takes longer.

    • Custador

      The NHS doesn’t even bother – We just say no :-)