Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have been bombarded with news coverage of the swine flu for several days now.
And when the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second highest level — of 5 — yesterday, the media couldn’t get enough of it. After all, this stuff sells newspapers and gets ratings. But when you take a look at the numbers, it seems like the story might be overblown…
The WHO has confirmed 236 cases of swine flu worldwide. 97 cases in Mexico, with seven deaths. Mexican officials have reported much higher numbers — 2,500 cases and more than 150 deaths — but those numbers haven’t been confirmed. In the U.S., the WHO says there are 109 confirmed cases with 1 death. Out of a population of more than 300 million people, that hardly seems to be cause for alarm.
And scientists who are studying the virus say this strain of influenza doesn’t look as deadly as strains that have caused previous pandemics. In fact, some suggest that the current form of the swine flu virus may not even do as much damage as the regular flu.
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