Friday, May 1, 2009

On Hysteria and Swine

hysteria: behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess

Neatorama had a link today to this article which was interesting:

Scientists: Swine Flu Milder Than Run-Of-The-Mill Winter Flu

Some highlights:

The swine virus does appear able to spread easily among humans, which persuaded the WHO to boost its influenza pandemic alert level to phase 5, indicating that a worldwide outbreak of infection is very likely. And the CDC reported on its website that "a pattern of more severe illness associated with the virus may be emerging in the United States." [...]

But certainly nothing that would dwarf a typical flu season. In the U.S., between 5% and 20% of the population becomes ill and 36,000 people die — a mortality rate of between 0.24% and 0.96%.

Dirk Brockmann, a professor of engineering and applied mathematics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., used a computer model of human travel patterns to predict how this swine flu virus would spread in the worst-case scenario, in which nothing is done to contain the disease.

After four weeks, almost 1,700 people in the U.S. would have symptoms, including 198 in Los Angeles, according to his model. That’s just a fraction of the county’s thousands of yearly flu victims.

Apparently the hysteria and worry is actually mostly unfounded. Sure, it might mutate, but the same could be said of any virus. It seems almost comical that people are deathly afraid of getting swine flu but aren't too worried about the winter flu that kills thousands of people every year. It's all about perspective folks.


Moxymama said...

I read an article about how those in Africa barely flinch when hearing of the swine flu because there are tons of diseases that kill them every day, so basically what is one more to add to the list. It does help put things in perspective. I think it is being made out to be worse than it is. However, being a border state and having a son with respiratory issues I am certainly cautious, equally so with the regular flu, about where he goes and who he is exposed to, and I have certainly bought my fair share of hand-sanitizer.

PJ Fiset said...

there may be 200 countries occupying this planet but only two things rule the world... fear and banks.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for this. My mom's been dealing with emails all week from my grandma ('you're not still going to vancouver are you? what about the swine flu?!'). And I've explained to my father-in-law at least three times this week that I'm not trying to kill him by cooking pork. Seriously.

RLE said...

The media always makes it that there is mass hysteria and worry where there is not necessarily any foundation - how else would they have people watch their programs or buys their papers. I think if we practice good hygiene (washing our hands, keeping our houses disinfected) and are conscious of our health, things will be good.