Media spreads swine flu panic

The high early death rate in Mexico may be due to misdiagnosis, poverty among victims, and a reluctance by government to face the consequences. In any case the infection rate seems to be leveling off and the death rate declining.

The swine flu story is perfect for cable TV. (Picture from Farm Sanctuary.)

It's not highly visual and many questions remain unanswered. This lets anchors speculate all day like high school girls and encourages the audience to do the same.

The death of a Dallas-area toddler today may ratchet the scare up to 11.

In fact what this looks like is nothing more than a seasonal flu out of season. It can be cured by common anti-virals like Tamiflu, if they are taken within 48 hours of the appearance of symptoms. There is no vaccine, but there could be one within six months.

The high early death rate in Mexico may be due to misdiagnosis, poverty among victims, and a reluctance by government to face the consequences. In any case the infection rate seems to be leveling off and the death rate declining.

We are even seeing the first signs of a pushback by government officials denying the disease got its start at a pork factory. Pork producers even have their allies in the bureaucracy demanding it be called H1N1, because many now believe pork is unsafe when it is, in fact, quite safe.

The Web site Funny or Die also offered a reminder that swine flu fear has a history, with Public Service Announcements from 1976, when a strain for which vaccinations were available was spreading.  

So here's the deal.

Take regular precautions like washing your hands and covering your sneezes. Those silly doctors' masks don't work. If you feel sick check with your doctor.

And a nice piece of pork loin pounded flat, croquetted with breadcrumbs, and pan-fried, may still be against your religion but remains delicious. A little lemon, a nice salad and a good white wine...yum-o.