Swine Flu News Got You Scared?

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Mexican authorities are shutting down businesses and much of the country's government in an effort to stop the spread of swine flu.

In the U.S., Vice President Joe Biden says there is no practical benefit in shutting down the country's border with Mexico.

Click play for more with CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson.

Nationwide, health officials have confirmed more than 90 cases across eleven states. Five people have been hospitalized.

More than 160,000 children across the country stayed home Thursday because their schools are closed as a precaution. That follows the advice President Obama gave to the country last night.

"Keep your hands washed," he said during his televised news conference. "Cover your mouth when you cough. Stay home from work, if you're sick and keep your children home from school if they're sick."

Texas is one of the hardest hit areas in the country by the illness. In Fort Worth, one confirmed case of swine flu has shut down an entire school district. There have been at least 16 confirmed cases of swine flu in the state. So far, The Lone Star State has had the only fatality in this country.

Alert Level Raised

The World Health Organization raised its alert level from four to five, which means a pandemic is imminent. Level 6 is a full-blown pandemic.

Some health experts have called raising the current level to 5 is excessive. Others expect it to be raised within the next day or so.

"Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely, because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," said WHO Director- General Dr. Margaret Chan.

The world's eyes are on Mexico, where health officials say the virus may have caused as many 170 deaths.

Global Concern

The biggest reason is because this type of virus is a new strain and doctors know little about. That unknown is what has them worried.

Doctors say there are not many differences between the symptoms of swine flu and the normal flu. People who have swine flu can expect to experience high fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.

If there is a difference, medical experts say swine flu may cause patients to feel more nausea and vomiting.

Some Perspective

Adding a little perspective to this story, it is important to note that, so far, less than 200 people around the world are known to have died from swine flu.

However, the regular flu kills at least 36,000 Americans every year. Worldwide, as many as 500,000 die annually from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Since January, more than 13,000 Americans have died of complications from regular seasonal flu. Most of those victims are elderly.

Is Reaction Overblown?

So is the global reaction to this new strain of flu overblown? Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center told CBN News that the news media has a track record of overplaying these kinds of stories.

"The media have a really bad history of dealing with any sort of flu," he said. "It's like the end of the world."

 

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