Swine Flu: Top 5 Reasons Not to Panic
Doctors share the good news about swine flu and why people shouldn't panic yet.
April 28, 2009— -- Doctors battling swine flu must walk a tightrope between informing the world so people can protect themselves, and sending people to the hospitals with an anxiety attacks instead of the flu.
But as reports of a few cases in California and Texas on Friday turned into hundreds and the World Health Organization issuing a pandemic threat level of 4 on Monday -- some otherwise healthy people feel on edge.
"I'm pretty much freaking out," said Brandon Syms, a freshman at Boston University who just received an e-mail from the school detailing the spread of swine flu. "I've gotten a cold or something a few days ago. I've been coughing a lot, and I've been getting a sore throat."
Syms, who claims he normally isn't a "germaphobe," said he's been obsessing about the possibility of his cold being swine flu for the past 24 hours -- yet he said he's too afraid to go to the doctor and hear the bad news if he does have it.
"I wonder if there are a whole lot of people who don't want to find out and they have it and they're spreading it around," said Syms. "Now I'm thinking about it all day long."
To make matters worse, he can't stop biting his fingernails so he's worried he's putting the virus in his mouth at every turn.
"It makes me nervous," he said. "What would calm me down right now, other than my mom, would be if they would talk more specifically about what this is, how it affects the body."
Despite the rising threat, and the rising numbers, many public health experts say they aren't too worried for now.
The following are doctors' top reasons why the public shouldn't panic about the swine flu -- yet.
"It's just a handful of cases. It is spreading but it's still quite early," said Dr. Martin Blaser, chairman of the Department of Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.
"In most cases, it's just regular influenza -- it's something that happens every year all the time," he said.
Although he expects the numbers to rise this week as labs catch up to diagnose current cases, Blaser said the public should bear in mind their own strength in numbers.
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