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Could Swine Flu Panic Be Worse Than Outbreak Itself?
Date:9/22/2009

y-five of those 500 people died.

The current H1N1 outbreak remains far from a "worst-case scenario" with most illnesses still mild, even though they're widespread.

However, according to the BMJ article, medical laboratories are already straining under the sheer number of specimens they're being asked to test -- many from patients who ordinarily wouldn't have even considered a flu test before.

"Parents are calling pediatricians and demanding vaccine," added Dr. Geoffrey Weinberg, professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "It's a burden on the offices because they're fielding so many phone calls."

The reality: "The [H1N1] infection to date has appeared to be mostly modest and has not caused a huge number of hospitalizations," Weinberg said.

More information

Get the facts on H1N1 flu at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tips to Keep H1N1 Panic at Bay

Joshua Klapow, a disaster mental health specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said a few simple steps can help you keep your head in the time of swine flu:

  • Get a reality check. "Remind yourself to gain perspective," Klapow said. "The headlines of death, the headlines of serious, serious illness are only the headlines and they are not balanced by the fact that the vast majority are not dying and are not getting severely ill." Visit the CDC Web site, as well as that of your local health department for more complete information. "This will give you a much more accurate picture of swine flu as it affects you," Klapow said
  • Act sensibly to cut your risk. That's as simple as washing your hands frequently, keeping your hands out of your nose, ears and mouth,
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