The alarmists have taken to banging the orchestral drums heralding the re-emergence of H1N1 swine flu in deafening fashion:
• The Defense Department is talking about establishing regional military teams to aid civilian authorities should there actually be a major outbreak. There's even talk of troop deployment
• A nationwide survey of 670 physicians found that "doctors' level of concern has steadily increased over the past month"
• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that a flu surge among kids at summer camps presages a fall surge as students return to school
• Another health group cried "Pregnant women and children first!" in urging half the U.S. population to get a series of flu shots.
Be afraid, be very afraid, appears to be the message.
Enter British epidemiologist Tom Jefferson: "Sometimes you get the feeling that there's a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur," he told the German magazine Der Spiegel.
Dr. Jefferson sees little difference between a swine flu and "normal" flu epidemic. He questions the effectiveness of flu vaccines in children and the elderly. And he stresses that the most fundamental way to battle this or any flu, and viruses in general, is regular hand-washing.
Being prepared is prudent. Inciting a panic is reckless. In pursuit of the former, too many are dangerously close to the latter. It's time to chill (and to pass the soap).
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.