Commentary: Common sense, not panic, a must to deal with swine flu

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

President Obama is right: Reports of a swine influenza outbreak in a number of states are reason for concern, but not for alarm.

Although federal and state health officials have worried for years about a pandemic of influenza, the reports of more than 100 deaths in Mexico and more than 40 cases in California, Texas, New York, Kansas and Ohio are not cause for panic. So far, there are no reports of swine flu cases in North Carolina, says Jeffrey Engel, state health director. South Carolina officials are checking potential cases related to a Newberry school trip to Mexico.

This is an outbreak to be taken seriously, but also calmly and with a common-sense response based on good public health practices. Keep in mind that swine flu is a virus. It is not caused by eating pork or any food. It comes from personal contact with others. While this virus appears to spread quickly and easily from one person to another, the good news is that so far the virus has been relatively mild in the United States.

We all have a stake in doing what we can to try to keep it that way. Here's some good advice from state and local health authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Don't travel in harm's way. All the deaths so far have been in Mexico, and that would be a logical place to avoid.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.