Are we really panicking about swine flu?

mexico-swine-flu1The World Health Organization has raised the alert for swine flu to level five and is warning a pandemic is imminent.

So are we really panicking or not? This blogger thinks the fear is real, and this paper says there’s panic in New York. But this blog says there isn’t.

Who is spreading the fear? Is it just us journalists doing it to make money? Some people are blaming twitter .

Our team have been told not to come into work for 7 days and even their equipment has gone into quarantine. I think they’d rather be at work but I’m not sure I want them here (only for health reasons of course!). Ros was told to produce a medical certificate for his kid’s nursery but the doctor said it was a waste of time. Is it right to socially shun people who’ve been in infected areas or is it over the top?

I was also wondering if the ‘panic’ is starting to hurt the economy? US stocks are down for travel, energy and hotel companies. But shares are up in healthcare! Will the economy grind to a halt if there is a pandemic?

And we still don’t know what’s causing swine flu…. Could the world’s largest pork packer be linked to it? They have massive hog-raising operations in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak started and people are starting to ask questions

But the meat industry says there’s no link and want us to call it Mexican flu instead.

And if you are worrying, this video’s a reminder of maybe why you shouldn’t.

22 Responses to “Are we really panicking about swine flu?”

  1. 1 Barry from USA
    April 30, 2009 at 14:33

    Maybe so, but I’d rather the world be prepared as opposed to not doing anything and people lose their lives.

    Also, if raising the alert will finally get people to wash their hands and cover their mouths (why people don’t do these simple things is simply idiotic), than it is worth the worry caused. It must be how poeple are raised…not entirely sure, but it is pure stupidity to not wash your hands and cover your mouth/nose when you cough or sneeze. Stupidity.

  2. 2 Tom K in Mpls
    April 30, 2009 at 14:46

    Sorry, another bad question. We are talking about human behavior. Being a global issue, we are seeing every aspect of human behavior. Mexico has greatly altered their daily lives, which is generally justified. But out of fear, they cling to their useless blue masks like a security blanket. In Egypt, knowing better, no fear, they kill the pig herds of the minority Christians using the flu as an excuse. Most of the US arrogantly laugh simply because it is not in their region. On personal levels, it is much more diverse.

    As for the WHO, They are sticking to a well thought out and largely untried plan. Hopefully this will turn out to be as weak as it seems to me. The WHO will look back on what happened and adjust their procedures based on a bit of experience. This is a great opportunity to learn. Sticking to a plan and documenting results is the best way to do this.

  3. 3 emmanuel
    April 30, 2009 at 15:03

    Oh no!, we are not overreacting, this flu is very much with us and its will be catastrophic if it spreads to our poor continent especially with its dilapidated health infrasrtructure. Its ashame that instead of addressing this concern, leaders are just engaged in supremacy battles. The same care free attitude led to the rapid spread of the AIDS scourge. I weep for my beloved country Kenya. Emmanuel in Makerere University.

  4. 4 Rob (UK)
    April 30, 2009 at 15:06

    The word ‘panic’ has always been overused by the media. It implies irrational behaviour, but taking sensible precautions to prevent oneself contracting a disease isn’t irrational at all.

    And it seems rather ridiculous that the two swine flu stories are (A) we should all be worried about swine flu, and (B) are people getting too worried about swine flu? What a feedback loop!

  5. April 30, 2009 at 15:42

    i think swine flu is a serious problem, it is very important to take all the necessary precautions. i guess even when the hiv/aids problem started people did not take it that serious. yes lets take this swine flu issue serious.
    from mansa, zambia

  6. 6 Anthony
    April 30, 2009 at 15:47

    Seriously? Again? We are still talking about this? I heard that 36000 people die in the US from regular flu, so one kid from Mexico dying in the US doesn’t seem like a big thing.

    OK, didn’t the UK stop ALL combat operations in Iraq today, and because of our media is blowing this out of proportion we wont even be touching this topic…. thats a shame. We should have a topic on how the media highlights stories that don’t matter opposed to the one that REALLY matter.

    It’s really sad that EVERYONE wanted coverage of them going INTO Iraq, but I don’t see anyone really fighting for images of them leaving…what does that say about our and the UK’s people….that really is sad :(.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  7. 7 gary
    April 30, 2009 at 16:22

    No, I don’t think folks are in a panic over the swine flu. It is certainly getting lots of press, and at this stage of the game, this is really a very good thing. Pandemic events follow the fairly simple chain process rules. Your NHS ” CATCH IT. BIN IT. KILL IT.” campaign and ones like in other countries are the best, simplest way to save lives, whether swine flu turns ugly or not. One needs remember there are the more garden-variety flu viruses out there still killing folks. I can live with the arrogance and ignorance of the detractors of such campaigns. Nothing would make me happier than if they’ve the chance to say ”I told you so.”

  8. 8 Anthony
    April 30, 2009 at 17:01


    Here is info on the 1976 Swine Flu Outbreak. It was around for a month, and then it was gone. And guess what, the VACCINE KILLED MORE PEOPLE THAN THE FLU DID!!! Whats that all about?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 9 Tom K in Mpls
      April 30, 2009 at 18:24

      Very true and you totally miss the point. Consider this an addition to my first post. This case is drawing attention simply because it is killing apparently healthy young men. This is the group that usually suffers the least. Because of all this attention and tracking, this is a great chance to test emergency procedures that in this case probably will save lives. Is it worth the cost? I won’t try to judge this. But it will help prepare for the future.

      As for ‘regular’ flu and inoculation deaths, flu deaths globally usually kill about 40k/yr. The inoculations usually kill hundreds. Do the math. Is it worth it? That is up to you to decide for your health. Feel free to never inoculate. Never wear a helmet on a motorcycle, don’t look before you cross the road….. Maybe you could think before you post.

  9. 10 Jennifer
    April 30, 2009 at 17:14

    No! I haven’t seen anything resembling “panic” about swine flu. People need to be informed. It’s their responsibility to keep up to date on what they can do to prevent the spread of this illness. Anything sensationalized should be dismissed………We are taking extra care with my brother who has a weakened immune system. My elderly neighbor is also being extra careful. These are good precautions; not panic!

    As for tweets; who is spreading panic? People who haven’t taken time to learn facts about swine flu. Who is in a panic? Probably those who haven’t taken time to learn facts about swine flu! It’s a pattern. Learn what you can about it, take precautions, and go on about your business as much as possible.

    And, please let our border control agents wear masks if they want to; for their own safety. Heaven forbid, they look “intimidating”!

  10. 11 Dennis Junior
    April 30, 2009 at 18:16

    No, the world is not panicking about the current situation regarding the swine flu…

    ~Dennis Junior~

    • 12 Dennis Junior
      May 1, 2009 at 06:42

      The world is taking REGULAR precautions regarding the ‘start’ of the Swine Flu situation…

      Re: Changing the name is totally insane and it is a waste of time….

      ~Dennis Junior~

  11. 13 Toad Toed Princess
    April 30, 2009 at 18:18

    It isn’t enough to say ”wash your hands.” Most people do not wash their hands correctly and we need to educate everyone.
    Proper hand washing with soap and water
    Follow these instructions for washing with soap and water:
    • Wet your hands with warm, running water and apply liquid soap or use clean bar soap. Lather well.
    • Rub your hands vigorously together for at least 15 to 20 seconds. (about the time it takes to sing the ABC song)
    • Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
    • Rinse well.
    • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.(don’t forget to “ready” the paper towel prior to washing so you do not have to touch the lever with clean hands)
    • Use a towel to turn off the faucet.
    Cough or sneeze into your upper arm.

  12. 14 Myles
    April 30, 2009 at 18:39

    I think that it’s important to remember that viruses affect populations in different climates differently. Flu viruses are more dangerous in cooler weather because the airborn pathogen can remain active for longer. For the Swine Flu we don’t know anything about how transmissive it is, I don’t think that we in the US are going over any lines with regard to our concern about the epidemic, I just hope that stays somewhat contained so that we don’t start having routine swine-flu every few years.

  13. 15 Pragya Gurung
    May 1, 2009 at 09:26

    i think at this time the words panic and overreacting doesnot make any sense,it is always safe to be concentrating on precaution and prevention .Sometimes panicking can actually do good instead of being too assured as disease sees no boundary be it caste , color , rich or poor.Well people here in Asia have not at all taken any extreme measures as such(exc in airports) but , it is always better to be in the safer side.

  14. 16 Josh W
    May 1, 2009 at 17:34

    No, not round here, we’re pretty chilled! News people are being dramatic, but I’m perfectly happy, except for 5 minuets after a news broadcast. My solution is to ration how much I listen to the news, as you obviously cannot be trusted with people’s emotions.

    I’ve been doing the “sneeze into arm thing” for years, it’s often too slow to rummage for a tissue.

    The question is what the news can do, should they say “swine flu is still spreading, here’s where it is”? Yes. Should they repeat disaster predictions for if we all start travelling the world by plane sneezing in people’s faces without any immunisation and the virus hybridises with HIV? No probably not.

    I just hope this is over by the end of summer, so I don’t have to worry about travel restrictions.

  15. May 2, 2009 at 10:44

    Doe’s anyone need to panic?
    look at the evidence, yes the redgular flu kills thousands of the old and vunerable and it suprises no one, but this swine flu has some striking simularitys with the 1918 Virus, in both the spring episode has been mild and targetted the 20-40 age group, so the real question should be is the virus seeding the population now for next atumn as it did in 1918?
    In !918 Mexico was in turmoil from the revolution and many were displaced yet Mexico largely escaped the mild spring episode, come the autumn the Hispanic population was decimated in El Paso. Last year the economy of Mexico imploded so its not really suprising that the swine flu has taken such a toll there where the poorest have not had access to the best medical science has to offer western populations.
    looking at the bigger picture the disgraceful lakes of raw sewage left behind in Iraq when the British withdrew there forces are an open invitation to many epidemics even Pandemics, By next autumn our boffin’s may come up with a vacine for swine flu but how will that help those who cannot afford it? the real thing we should be in fear and perhaps panic a bit about is the dire poverty in which all infectious disease flourish and Pandemics are nurtured.

  16. May 5, 2009 at 06:14

    Well here we are again. The BBC, where I first read about the biblical proportions of this “pandemic” moving up to DEFCON 1 or whatever, asking me if they’ve generated undue alarm sufficiently.
    And that’s the basest order of absurd magnitude. Above that there are at least 11 and 1/2 dimensions of dementia, wherein for instance BBC have like 8,000 full time investigative reporters and I have nothing but this here cat who is totally deaf and extremely near-sighted as far as I can tell, yet we’re asked for our evaluation.
    IMHO, youve never seen such calm under worldwide media induced diress, so I’m guessing she’s got this whole flu thing sussed.
    Mind you… she fell asleep during The Andromeda Strain so.. obviously I’m just not sure how to guage this with any real precision.

    Hope that helps.

  17. 19 globalcomedy
    May 5, 2009 at 06:42

    I say we are. Look at a few signs.

    Obama keeps saying it’s serious, but not a cause for concern. What does THAT mean? No one knows where this infection started from. No one knows the accurate number of deaths in Mexico from this. Masks do NOT give you all the protection you need. And it’s not even swine flu. How long has the MSM with their “best damn news teams” been on this story? And how much accurate information has the public been given?

  18. 20 Akay
    May 5, 2009 at 15:53

    I think the way the media is covering it is helping arouse fear and panic.
    media should investigate on the origins of the flu and work together with medical practitioners.
    the aim should be to educate the public.
    Once people are properly educated, they panic less.

  19. 21 Dennis
    May 6, 2009 at 10:56

    The panic is being caused by Media Hype, looking to fill in news airtime and space in the papers, pure and simple.
    This is the way to get ratings for BREAKING NEWS.
    There are too many people that rely on the word of total strangers(newscasters) , telling them there is a reason to panic and come back to the media outlet, for more news as to what COULD happen, but isn’t.

    People that can’t reason it out for themselves.
    I can guarentee you, someone’s making LOADS of money off this one!!!

    All the FREE vaccinations that are available are payed for by our taxes.
    Free, indeed.
    We are paying for the hype, yet no one sees this, being blinded by the media hype.

  20. May 9, 2009 at 12:30

    Millions still die every year worldwide from the normal strain of flu. Unrecorded numbers die from the common cold. This latest brouhaha is just more of the same. What is a scandal is that these diseases are still killers in the 21st Century and getting ever more dangerous.

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