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Swine flu: The first death outside Mexico
Dealing with fear while preparing for a possible pandemic
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hat happened
A Mexican toddler has died of swine flu in Texas, the first death outside Mexico from the H1N1 flu strain. The number of infections in the U.S. rose to 91—in 10 states—and President Obama said schools with confirmed or suspected cases should “strongly consider temporarily closing.” (The New York Times) Administrators closed Branham High School in Santa Clara County, Calif., after a student was diagnosed with swine flu. (San Jose Mercury News)

What the commentators said
“Cases have now popped up all over the world, including New Zealand, Israel, Britain, and Canada,” said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. All the deaths so far have been in Mexico, or linked to it, but that could change in the two months it takes to develop a vaccine, “so we will have to remain careful about contact, but not paranoid.”

But let’s keep this in perspective, said Doug Gross in CNN. This outbreak has everybody fearing a global pandemic, but so far it has been blamed for just 150 deaths. Even if more swine-flu deaths occur outside Mexico, “the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.”

“Is it time to panic? In a word, no,” said Howard Markel in The New Republic. So don't "lock yourself in a closet" and start piling up provisions just yet. But governments everywhere are right to start cooperating and preparing to intervene if a pandemic appears. "With human life, it really is better to be safe than sorry."

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