swine flu no reason to panic

Emily Mather

With the recent emergence of swine flu (or influenza A H1N1) here in the San Diego area, there is a growing concern about the severity and scope of a potential outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a total of 109 cases have been confirmed in the US, with only one fatality and worldwide, the numbers total 257 confirmed cases with 7 fatalities, according to the World Health Organization. However, these numbers should be taken in the context that the average yearly number of deaths related to regular seasonal flu in the US alone is around 36,000.
While it is wise to practice standard flu prevention methods such as frequent hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing, it is not recommended or necessary to wear a protective mask to lessen the chance of infection. The swine flu is not an airborne disease. It is contained in the water droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, so close contact is required for transmission from person to person. It is also important to know that there is absolutely no risk of contracting this disease from eating pork.
Just as with any public health threat of this nature, the United States Government has declared a public health emergency in order to allocate the resources necessary for combating and minimizing the effects of a pandemic situation. This mainly involves distributing supplies such as antiviral drugs and personal protective equipment to all 50 states, so that a quick response can be mounted in the event of a serious outbreak.
Currently there are no plans to institute travel restrictions for air travel or border crossings, though people exhibiting any flu-like symptoms are encouraged to delay any travel plans. Additionally, anyone experiencing serious symptoms after recent international travel should seek medical attention.