Cafferty File: Tell Jack how you really feel Blog Archive - Has swine flu story been overblown? « - Blogs from CNN.com
April 30, 2009
Has swine flu story been overblown?
Posted: 04:00 PM ET
FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have been bombarded with news coverage of the swine flu for several days now. And when the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second highest level — of 5 — yesterday, the media couldn’t get enough of it. After all, this stuff sells newspapers and gets ratings. But when you take a look at the numbers, it seems like the story might be overblown…
The WHO has confirmed 257 cases of swine flu worldwide. 97 cases in Mexico, with seven deaths. Mexican officials have reported much higher numbers — 2,500 cases and more than 150 deaths — but those numbers haven’t been confirmed. In the U.S., the WHO says there are 109 confirmed cases with 1 death. Out of a population of more than 300 million people, that hardly seems to be cause for alarm.
And scientists who are studying the virus say this strain of influenza doesn’t look as deadly as strains that have caused previous pandemics. In fact, some suggest that the current form of the swine flu virus may not even do as much damage as the regular flu.
More than 13,000 people in the U.S. have died of complications from seasonal flu since January; and it’s expected to continue killing hundreds of people a week. In total, about 36,000 people a year die from the flu in this country; and worldwide, the annual death toll is somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000.
One scientist tells the Los Angeles Times that just because the swine flu is being identified in more countries doesn’t mean it’s spreading especially quickly, saying: “You don’t ever find anything that you don’t look for.”
Here’s my question to you: Has the swine flu story been overblown?