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Pondering Pig Flu Panic

By Michael Fumento

Tweeters have jumped out of the gates with all their sagacious advice, such as to not eat pork products, while I go the old-fashioned route and actually research the swine flu outbreak for an article. Remember articles? But since I know some people are interested in what I'm going to say, here's a preview:

As the outbreak develops, keep in mind that seasonal flu, according to the CDC, infects between 28 and 56 million Americans each year, hospitalizes over 100,000, and kills about 36,000. (The death figure is probably on the high side.) Did you bother to get vaccinated?

At this point there's no evidence swine flu is easier to transmit than seasonal flu or that it's more lethal. There have been no deaths yet outside of Mexico. All infectious diseases strike much harder in underdeveloped countries because the people are less healthy to begin with.

"Swine flu" simply means it has pig RNA mixed in. There's nothing inherent to it that would make it worse than seasonal flu. We've had a previous outbreak of swine flu; it killed one person.

True, we have no vaccine for this flu; but two years ago it turned out that the seasonal flu shot was ineffective - the equivalent of no vaccine. We're still here.

No, swine flu doesn't threaten to become "another Spanish Flu of 1918-19." Nothing does. Check your calendar; that was 90 years ago. Since then we've developed things called "antibiotics" as well as antivirals and other anti-flu medicines. In all flu outbreaks, including the Spanish one, the vast majority of deaths come from secondary bacterial infections.

Still scared? Wash your hands several times a day, keep away from coughers, and stay tuned.

April 27, 2009 08:50 PM  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer) ~ Media