From the Editors
What exactly is swine flu, and should we be freaking out yet? The CDC explains it's "a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs" and has just updated its site with details about its human swine flu investigation. Symptoms are similar to regular flu symptoms, and the virus is spread the way the regular flu is--by infected people coughing, sneezing, and touching uninfected people. The White House has declared this a "public health emergency," which is possibly not as scary as it sounds: "The term 'sounds more severe than it really is,' said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who called the measure 'standard operating procedure,' adding, 'I wish we could call it a declaration of emergency preparedness.' The same measures, she said, were taken for the inauguration and in cases of flood and hurricane" and nobody in the U.S. has died (via Politico).
In New York City, where eight cases have been confirmed at a public school, Gothamist reports that "the health department is now on 'high alert,' and officials will be checking every 12 hours to determine if any of the roughly 60,000 patients admitted to emergency rooms in an average day had flu symptoms. But yesterday [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg encouraged people with flu symptoms to avoid hospitals unless they were seriously ill, so as not to infect others. He also urged everyone not to panic: 'Just go about your business, enjoy the good weather.'" And wash your hands a lot.