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Putting the Swine Flu in perspective

You may have heard of news reports circulating on people contracting the Swine Flu in Mexico, the US, Canada, one person in Spain, as well as possible cases in Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. People are naturally freaking out about the virus because not only has it already reached our borders, but it's a disease that could spread like wildfire if we're not careful, and fast.

But how worried should you really be?

Here are the basic facts on Swine Flu:

1) It is an animal-born virus -- specifically influenza A (H1N1), and is not curable with anti-biotics (which only cure bacterial infections)
2) You can not, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), get the virus from "properly cleaned" pork products cooked at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Faranheit.
3) Treatments include anti-viral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir, which can cause the same symptoms as the flu itself like diarrhea. Other anti-viral drugs like amantadine and rimantadine are no longer (they once were against other strains of the swine flu) effective.
4) If you had the regular flu vaccine shot last winter, you can still catch Swine Flu. The human flu is different than animal-born flus.

The population of Mexico City (where most of the Swine Flu cases are being seen), along with the suburbs around the city, is around 22 million, according to the CIA's online factbook. Across the entire Mexican nation, there are over 109 million people. Of those millions, 1600 people think they could have the virus. The number of deaths Mexican officials suspect were caused by swine flu are 149.

EVERY YEAR In America (population 303.8 million), more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from (regular) flu-related complications and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. At this time, 40 cases of Swine Flu were confirmed in the US in NYC, California, Kansas, Ohio and Texas.

EVERY SPRING BREAK  Statistics for how many American teens and college kids go to Cancun (where the flu is thought to have originated) for spring break vary as much as from tens of thousands to millions. Wikipedia cites the beachfront town to contain 24,000 hotel rooms -- and we all know spring breakers do not room alone.

This is not the first time America has seen an outbreak of swine flu. In 1976 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, swine flu caused one soldier to die and three others to fall ill, according to the CDC. Swine Flu was also detected in a pregnant woman in 1988 after she died from what was thought to have been pneumonia.

Contracting this flu does not mean eminent demise. The CDC cites all the cases thus far found in the US were mild.

News:

  • During his morning press conference, President Obama said the outbreak was “a cause for concern” but not alarm.
  • Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, declared a US public health emergency.
  • Mexico City has closed its nightclubs and will possibly restaurants and other public areas if the outbreak continues.
  • European health officials advised against nonessential travel to the US and Mexico
  • * Most of the information was collected from the Center for Disease Control's Web site.

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