Swine Flu: Top 5 Reasons Not to Panic

Doctors worry most about people like Catoe, children and the elderly and others with weak immune systems during a flu outbreak.

While that still holds true with swine flu, those who study outbreaks say that A(H1N1) isn't the deadliest strain out there.

"A thing to keep in mind is the case-fatality," said Ed Hsu an associate professor of Public Health Informatics at the University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences in Houston.

Case-fatality is a simple way to measure how deadly a disease can be: the percentage of people who got the disease and did not survive. Hsu said case fatality for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) reached more than 15 percent, while bird flu reached 60 percent.

"What we're seeing in Mexico case fatality is about 10 percent, and some of those are not confirmed," said Hsu. "Compared to bird flu it's relatively mild."

More Information, Science Will Help Doctors Fight Swine Flu

As of Tuesday evening, Mexican Health Officials report they have 20 confirmed deaths from the swine flu virus, while the World Health Organization says their current laboratory-confirmed total is seven.

Reason 3: Swine Flu Meet Tamiflu… For Now

Although doctors don't have a vaccine for the new strain of swine flu, Blaser said there is hope in our medical arsenal.

"At this point the strain is sensitive to flu medication such as tamiflu," said Baser, who is also the past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Tamiflu can subdue many flu infections if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms. The current federal Public Health Emergency declaration has allowed the federal government's to stockpile and allocate flu medication to areas that need it most.

But Blaser warns people not to take flu medication without a prescription -- especially if they have not had any symptoms.

"If enough people do, the virus will become resistant and it [the medicine] will not work," said Blaser.

Although mommy-blogger Amy Anaruk, author of theasthmamom.com, hasn't run out to get Tamiflu, she did get children's acetaminophen, found doctors for her family just in case, and then spent the better half the weekend calming down.

"I've gotten to the point of feeling sane about it -- you just can't live your life that way," said Anaruk. "When you see health officials who say 'prepare, prepare, prepare,' you start to think that it's inevitable -- especially if you have child with a chronic health problem."

Certainly declarations of public health emergencies have led such worries, but experts say it's a sign that governments are better prepared for pandemics than ever before.

Reason 4: Governments, Scientists Have Learned their lessons

"In terms of quarantine and travel rules -- we are much better prepared," said Hsu. "This is a great, great, improvement and this is a lesson learned from previous outbreaks."

Although it scares most people that swine flu cases are popping up all over the globe, to Hsu it shows governments aren't trying to cover up a disease.

Honest Swine Flu Reporting Will Help Potential Pandemic

"It is a good sign, which is the transparency of reporting," said Hsu.

Blaser concurred on the government's responsiveness -- not only with the speed at which they declared a public health emergency but with the money and work put behind finding a new vaccine.

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