Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 14:36 UK

How can we avoid a swine flu pandemic?

The World Health Organization says countries must not lower their guard in the response to the swine flu outbreak. What are your concerns about the virus?

Almost 900 cases had been confirmed across five continents, the WHO said, and authorities have to remain vigilant.

Viruses increased and decreased in activity, it said, and it was too early to tell whether the outbreak had peaked where it emerged in Mexico.

The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK has risen to 18. The increase, comes as health chiefs await the results of more than 600 tests for the disease.

What precautions are you taking to prevent the spread of swine flu? How have your government and media reacted to the outbreak? How concerned are you? Are you in Mexico? Are streets and beaches deserted?

Send your pictures of deserted areas in Mexico to or text them to +44 7725 100 100. If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

We are having serious technical problems with the usual Have Your Say service which our engineers are working to fix. We apologise for any inconvenience.

This debate is now closed.

Your comments:

The extensive media coverage of swine flu is a welcome distraction from the potentially destabilising economic crisis. It makes us realise how lucky we are.
Sean Roberts, Birmingham

Where as I thought the media had panicked people with the stories of this virus, I do think that it has helped to contain the spread, by making people more cautious over the flu.
Kevin Spring, Rushden, Northants.

Basic hygiene, avoid lifts and wash hands frequently during the day.
Alfred Penderel Bright, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

I'm honestly surprised we don't die of other illnesses already. The amount of people I see leaving public toilets without washing their hands both out and about and in the workplace appals me.

Personal hygiene is so easy yet a lot of people don't seem to care. Honestly, I'd rather be tongue bathed by my dog than touch the handle of a public toilet.
Andy Craddock, St Austell, Cornwall

How do we get the media to start reporting news again instead of everything being hype, emotion and sentimentalism - the real virus is the daily toll of exposure to this stuff. it's got to the point where the 'news' is a reality gameshow
John Siddique, Hebden Bridge

'Flu is not the bubonic plague where mortality is around 50%. The best way to avoid any viral infection is to stay at home and let it pass.
Hazel, Erith, Kent

Garbage! Modern antibiotics make mincemeat of bacterial infections like bubonic plague. The best way to cope with viral infections is to have a vaccine if one is available, otherwise use anti-virals. As a last resort keep vitamin D levels up - walk regularly in the sun.
Andrew, Norwich, UK

I am not worried about swine flu. Thousands of people across the world die of regular flu every yea. This has not been the mass killing illness which was feared. Of course take a few extra measures, but it is no different to any other illness like washing your hands, sneezing into tissues. Its stuff we should be doing anyway. Basic hygiene
Darren Spraggs, New Malden, UK

By Not panicking...its getting all out of hand! Shoppers panicking about shopping trolleys not being clean... what's next not wanting to pick food off shelves because the stackers might have a cold... COME ON PEOPLE! How do you think you catch colds anyway? Wash your hands more...sneeze into tissues, catch it bin it, kill it!..up your hand hygiene if worried buy hand gel cleaners but don't over use and definitely don't use when smoking after all its alcohol based!!
Su, Manchester

Just shut ports borders and airports, simple answer yes trade would suffer but would reduce the risk tenfold.
Stu, Chertsey

It's the quality of life that matters not the quantity and dying from swine flu is probably no worse or better than dying from other diseases. At least if we are all supposedly dead we won't have to watch the world go to hell in a handbasket and have to listen to terrible media hyperbole anymore. See. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Simple Simon, Derbyshire Hills

My concern is cross contamination through supermarket basket/trolly handles and yet on checking, with various supermarket head offices I haven't found one store in England that has implemented a deep cleansing routine or even offered disinfecting wipes out to their customers when entering their stores. No wonder we all catch flu these days.
John Lewington, Bath

'Flu is not the bubonic plague where mortality is around 50%. The best way to avoid any viral infection is to stay at home and let it pass. Trouble is employers would take a dim view of that. Why escape it? It will get us in the end.
Hazel, Erith, Kent

I don't see how the health secretary can say it is being "confined, contained and treated". I don't see that it is being contained if there are cases of people who have caught the virus by contact with people who have been to Mexico. People who have travelled to affected areas should have remained in isolation. Schools are not closed if a pupil has not been symptomatic yet the first man to catch the virus who had not travelled appears to have done so through a carrier who had travelled to Mexico but was not displaying symptoms. It seems to me that the authorities are just accepting the inevitable and allowing it to spread but are unwilling to say so.
Jo, Grimsby

I don't understand the necessity to close schools & then for parents to possibly transmit the virus at work, or for brothers/sisters in other schools to also possibly spread the virus. If there is serious threat to health, and to have any serious effect in stopping the spread, then surely whole families should be quarantined & not just parts of it. Present policy is nonsensical, non practical, and unrealistic with stopping any pandemic. But then again we are used to half hearted non-sensical policies from this negligent inept government.
Iain, Doncaster UK

Thank you to the government for a measured response, sensible information and good forward planning. Hopefully this is a mild outbreak and the death rate will be the same as or even less than normal flu. But that is still additional deaths and there is still the potential for an autumn out break. Yes there has been media hype - it is what sells papers! - but the reality is that if we had taken this approach with other viruses then many lives would have been saved. The UK focus now must be on maintaining sensible precautions and looking to help countries less able than us to manage an outbreak.
Anita, Crowborough UK

What is the WHO alert level of seasonal flu? It would be interesting to know as a comparison- might help put things into context/rationalise this new threat!
SV, London

The Swine flu pandemic has brought a lot of anxiety for many people especially some of us in the Developing countries. We depend on you people from the developed countries to share with us the symptoms and the precaution to be taken if we are faced with the same.
Paul Kuyela Kolala, Ndola, Zambia

How can we avoid a swine flu pandemic? Just by constant education by those who know how to deal with this virus.
Norman, Barry

Stop the sensationalist journalism. The gist of what you have been reporting in the last week is "15 people caught the flu in the UK and they are now recovering from it"! That's all there is to it. Is that really first page news?
Stephen Nately, London, England

Why be worried? If you're gonna get it, you will. It's obvious what to do. Isolate those who do have it, and give meds to every household. That will prove if we really were prepared.
Calum, Watford, England

In history there have always been periods of mass infection and disease. We are human after all, so we can't avoid it. If Swine Flu doesn't get us then there'll be another one along soon.
Tom, Gloucester

Firstly by ignoring hyped press- As a nurse I know we have a good infrastructure-however when people are directed to A&E or to just to the pharmacy you wonder who is paying attention. I want to know if in Birmingham the plane was grounded and cleaned from those passengers carrying the virus-small things like this count-planes are invariable landed quick cleaned and out again which potentially infects more people.
Robert Head, Oxford

I agree with most of the comments that have been posted on this page. I cannot believe how far this 'flu' has been blown out of proportion. Stop wearing masks that do nothing and continue with normal civilized life !!!
Tom, United Kingdom

I would stop all flights and travel abroad to contain this spread
Julie Labbe, Taunton England

The World Health Organization rightly says countries must not lower their guard in the response to the swine flu outbreak.
A.R.Shams, Pakistan

The only way to avoid catching a virus is to stop breathing - the consequences of that however are far more serious. The WHO have no authority over the flu virus, if you catch it then rest, have plenty to drink, look after yourself. Stop panicking and get on with life.
Ian Hanson, Lund, Sweden

With the overwhelming number of cases here in Britain I fear it is far too late. All we can do is sit back and watch as the numbers increase to 100 or more. Too late and resulting in needless cases of mild flu.
Arnie Burt

People, come to Mexico and don't be afraid of the flu, or of Mexicans. I just got back from a tour of Northern Mexico, and I heard of 2 cases of flu in all of northern Mexico. Two cases, and northern Mexico is bigger than France. Come on, what's the deal? if you want problems walk around Detroit at 3am
John Paul Cline, Guadalajara, Mexico

Hey, what do you know? Swine flu has not been as bad as the media and government wanted us to believe, but don't stop panicking, because it could get worse again in the autumn!! Another over-blown scare from a government trying to take our sights off the economy and the mess they are in.
Richard, Bristol

The best way to avoid it is to steer well clear of the source i.e news media. Swine flu is like normal flu only milder, yet you would think it was The Plague by the way it has been blown all out of proportion.
Tim, UK

I'm sorry for the 900, but 900 out of five continents, God only knows how many billions of people, hardly constitutes a "pandemic". As other articles point out, five or more orders of magnitude more people die EVERY YEAR from normal seasonal flu. So this is a major media hyperbole pork non-event. Shame on the broadcasters. Get over it. Wash your hands and get on with life.
Andy Lavarre, Newport USA

If the media didn't report on daily or weekly news, we would know nothing at all, we would all be sneezing and spluttering on everyone, none of you can say you haven't took their words into advice and made a little more effort over this, fair enough they sell more papers but we buy them regardless. If it wasn't for the media scaring us a lot of the human race would carry on coughing in any direction you walked in.
Christian, West Midlands

Just stop it BBC. Stop with this race to find the next bogeyman to scare us with. You and the rest of the media, you may have noticed this time that more and more people are failing to fall for this shtick, and the more you delve into speculation and scarifying the more eroded your once-great reputation becomes.
Arthur Taylor, Hilperton, UK

Swine flu has come along at just the right time for us all to forget about MPs' expenses and the failing economy... How convenient! I know Tories want to blame everything on Gordon Brown but get real a mild(ish) version of flu starting in Mexico that has got to be Brown's fault . Get Real! The reality is around 10,000 die each Year in the UK as a result of flu infections and the excessive concentration on this virus by the media is only likely to result, given finite production capacity, in vaccinations being produced in lower quantities for the likely winter virus. PS BBC sort your system out its been 3 days now.
Steve Thornhill, Hertfordshire

I believe the WHO is correct in all its assertions. They are a research organisation put in place by the government to inform, study, control, and treat all health related topics. We as a public need to be cognisant of all the information given and do as instructed and follow all information given for ourselves our families and everyone. I am glad all information including scientific research information has been given freely to the public. We need to escape the last 5 years of governmental silence in which no one was informed of anything.
Debra, New York, USA

We have two cases of swine flu in our town outside of Chicago and I am not worried at all. Both of the people, a 12 year old, and a 25 year old, were treated and are recovering quickly. This whole thing is just media food to scare us.
Danny McNeil, Elmhurst, USA

This is just a diversion from the economic problems. People die from the flu every year, what's the big deal. Please report on who is stealing all our money.
Alan, Florida

Why all this "Scare and hype tactics" around a regular influenza virus? We have approx 41 million people world wide with HIV, 3000 people die every day from malaria and here we have an a minute fraction of the world's population with a "flu" virus and yet again the WHO and media outlets try to create massive profits for the pharmaceutical industries by adding fuel to a minute out break of flu. Please get this in perspective and desist from creating unnecessary panic.
Mike Cook, Vancouver Canada

Charts showing the spread of the disease did indeed confirm how easy it was to invade populations. Reasonable precautions taken have had a good result. Don't pooh-pooh the containment as proof that measures were unnecessary. Quite the reverse. But the real test comes down the road to see if the "bug" mutates further in the fall.
Senior E, Texas, USA

I personally think that its just a regular cold. All the symptoms have an explanation other than swine flu. We have no reason to think its anything other than the common cold, with maybe a few small changes. I don't know a whole lot about it, and I'm not some brilliant doctor, but all my friends are basically competing for "person most likely to have swine flu." One of the teachers will send you home with the slightest cough or if you lay your head on the desk. Wake up people. It's no big deal. We are also hurting Mexico. We're blaming it on them and now no one will go there for a while. I think its stupid.
Kady, Springfield, USA

Pandemic - don't make me laugh. A couple of hundred suspected cases and only a hand full of fatalities proven to be caused by swine flu. If the governments and health organisations have finished trying to scare everyone can we please get back to real issues.
Chris Dawson, Sheffield

Cough into a hankie. Everyone take care of their own hygiene and everything will be fine. And the media should stop scaring everyone!!!
Kerri, Newcastle, UK

No one can tell in which way a virus is going to evolve in advance. This strain of H1N1 has turned out to be just like a normal flu - for the moment- but it could just as equally become deadly to humans, simply due to an unlucky mutation. So, instead of criticising the media and the governments for informing the public and taking preventive measures against such a potential threat to human lives, maybe we should be glad that there is enough transparency in the media and that politicians are willing to take action for our health first - not always for the health of the economy.
Raphie, London, UK

Do you think it is possible for swine flu to be transmitted through the air system on aircraft, as I understand the air is internally circulated - so many people come back from holidays with chesty colds?
Dawdee, Rushden, England

Fifteen out of fifty nine thousand have got swine flu. We seem to have one new case every day. Hardly evidence of an imminent flu pandemic. Of all the viruses that have caused mayhem and havoc, Norovirus is the most problematic. It has caused more infections than flu. Just ask the cruise lines!
Sue, York

Actually I'm quite glad that the fact that flu passes from one person to another is no longer dominating the headlines. Whatever would we all do without the media to report bad science and whip up unnecessary panic??
Bertie Bobbins

I think they should change "swine flu" to just "flu", it seems no worse than seasonal flu.
Dale, Swansea

Don't avoid it. Catch it. It is a weak flu (all flu's kill, but this one not many) and it might give you immunity to a deadlier H1N1 that is yet to come.
Glen, Seattle/United States

""The WHO have cried wolf. The next time they issue another pandemic alert, nobody will believe them. "" I'm going to stop buying their records........
Andy Smith, Newcastle, Staffs.

Could this whole thing be a distraction to get our minds off the economic situation? Just wondering .....
Stan the Arab, USA

I have noticed recently that a large portion of the BBC 'News' is given over to speculation: Bird Flu wiping out humanity; extreme weather due in thirty years as a result of global warming; running out of oil; worst recession since 1920s etc. etc. Shouldn't you just stick to reporting on what has happened?

Áine, Ireland

My god! What a panic over nothing. A relatively mild flu virus has broken out in several countries- and apparently it is enough to bring the world to a grinding halt. Some perspective is needed. I probably wont get it. If I do, I will have mild cold/flu like symptoms. The media storm however is causing panic, has already caused a great deal of damage to Mexico, and could cause a great deal of damage here, at a time when we are fragile economically as it is. Perspective. The question is, in whose interests is it that we are afraid. Alan Davies interview this morning was scaremongering. Simple as.
Lisa Ansell, Hebden Bridge

The best way to avoid a swine flu pandemic here in the UK - would be to get rid of the current government as fast as possible. Then maybe their spin doctors might not have to work so hard to distract the populous from the social disintegration they have caused by their greed.
e-bert, sheffield

I remember reading about the 1918 epidemic several years back. I recall the records that indicated alcoholics had a high survival rate. Could it be that alcohol has the effect of combating the virus. If we could refine the connection and perhaps find an antiseptic just as effective and less dangerous to our overall health than alcohol. When we are facing such a crisis it's any port in a storm. Grampa Borley
Brian Borley, Saskatoon, Sk.

So much fuss over a natural method of population control.
Clive, Dartford, Kent

It's sickening to see all this hulabaloo over a minor flu when thousands are being infected with the HIV virus every day. Wake up to the real problem BBC and stop sensationalising.
Zap Branagan, Dublin

Talk about hype - it's the media whipping the world into a frenzy for they have little else to stir up at the moment. It's like the Kentucky Derby, increase hype and frenzy for two days, and then it is all over in sixty seconds. Get real everyone and stop panicking over nothing.
Alex Esterhase, Tucson, USA

What a surprise BBC panicking the world and causing major problems to Mexico's tourist industry by printing stories telling people not to go to Mexico. Should they be issuing a rather large apology to the world. Um yes I think so.....
Danny, Leeds

How can we avoid a swine flu pandemic? Stop reading the papers.
Cadi, Cardiff

This flu is a load of rubbish the government is playing with us.

What's baffling me is news that the 'flu is being contained, but every day another person is affected. A look at the world map defies that it's being contained at all. Not scare-mongering, but am extremely worried.
Susan, Scotland

Preventing contact with infected individuals is key to preventing a pandemic outbreak. Anyone who thinks this has been 'over hyped' mustn't realize how significant it is when a never before seen virus mutates to infect humans. This virus didn't exist 3 months ago, it is brand new, and considered a mild strain. What happens if it allowed to transmit to others and mutate further? People really have no idea but this disease is being handled exactly as it should, by containing infected individuals by quarantine.
Steve, Ennismore, Ontario, Canada

According to a good friend of mine, who is a doctor in the US, 10,000 people died last year in the US from influenza A. swine flu is an influenza A virus so let's get it in perspective! Let's avoid the media rather than people.
Patrick, Dromahair, Ireland

How bad is it? World pandemic? Really... So far I don't think so, yes some people have died, very bad that, but on the whole, not that many. Isn't the problem that the flu has jumped species? Let's have something to compare figures to as well, like how many people does ordinary flu kill, of how many people died of malaria last week? I think it's time for some balance here, not panic and scaremongering. C'mon, perspective.
Karen Swan, Bournemouth, Dorset

More ridiculous hysteria from the British media. Doesn't normal flu kill people who are weakened by other ailments or old age every year? We had a particularly hot summer a couple of years back and the heat killed several thousand people in France for example. Does this mean we should all be scared of summers? Get a grip BBC editors and stop making stories up over nothing, and that goes for the rest of the media too.
Steve, Rochester

Let's maintain some hygiene everywhere as we do not know how it is transmitted. People in Mexico mustn't travel anyhow at the moment because it will be difficult to handle when it comes to Africa where resources are none.
Lawrence Kamawu, Kitwe, Zambia

I am not taking any precautions other than making sure I wash my hands more! I'm following protocols set by the NHS and not panicking. Manchester, UK is well prepared for any sort of outbreak. It's the media that is hyping it all out of proportion!
Su, Manchester, UK

You should be praising the governments for their work, as oppose to decrying them.
Richard White, Wollongong, Australia

So we should be praising the governments for saving us from a crisis that even the Mexicans are saying is non-existent? I know Australia panicked over this one big time, unlike New Zealand which actually had some cases, but what you are saying is ridiculous.
Andrew, Norwich, UK

Stop talking about it and give everyone a vaccine.

Bob, Cambridge

Ah, the man of action! Well Bob, a vaccine won't be ready until September at the earliest by which time all those going to die from this virus will have done so. Otherwise, a great plan Bob, why didn't anybody else think of it?Andrew, Norwich, UK

This story is ridiculous, thousands of people die from normal flu every year and yet we never hear about how that could end humanity or raise the alert to level five or whatever. This story has been blown massively out of proportion. Also the phrase "deaths have occurred in the US" needs to be changed to "death", there has only been one.
Rob N, Cambridge

I think the media have over-reacted. I winced when BBC Breakfast asked their resident doctor her views... it completely undermined everything the BBC had been saying. I'm surprised the producer did not cut her off. In 1976 Americans were inoculated needlessly. Why not just quarantine?
Darren V, Crediton UK

It's ironic, because BBC recently ran a series called 'Survivors', about people that survived a major pandemic.
Sam Silver, London

" I have lost a lot of faith in the BBC. vCJD, SARS, bird flu, swine flu... I wonder what's going to kill us all next."

Well, in case you haven't noticed, vCJD has killed hundreds in this country including someone I know, and there is a massive risk of it still looming over us, SARS killed hundreds in the East and very nearly became catastrophic, bird flu is still a high risk, and swine flu, even if we do not all get it now, could mutate and we could all get it much worse in winter. This is what the science and facts say. I'm not saying we should panic, just that taking all reasonable precautions and impartially informing people of the risk seems pretty sensible to me.

Vincent, Tunbridge Wells

Keep the population in a state of panic and they will do anything. The media are doing an excellent job. We can forget about all the real problems and worry about catching a cold.
Richard Andrews, Switzerland

While precaution is always better than cure, this swine flu is causing an alarm pandemic among world populations. Mexico has reported only a hundred deaths so far by this epidemic flu, out of thousands of deaths in that country every month by road accidents and drug related murders. In an average day many thousands are killed by ordinary cold flu in the world. Many thousands are killed in many parts of the world every day by man-made armed conflict, so the swine flu is not that big a challenge to human society today.
Sinna Sundar, Toronto, Canada.

Prevent? What is there to prevent? It is out there already. Only the public statistics have not caught up yet. I am pretty sure I've had it and I know where I got it from, but nobody else knows. Aren't we all lucky that this is only a mild strain?
Bristol, UK

The only Pandemic we have at present in the UK is a Media Pandemic. However this is not to say the populous has forgot how to conduct themselves in public. I recently worked in London and took the Tube to work for 4 stops. The hygiene and etiquette of the people was appalling. People sneezing, coughing and clearing phlegm from their throats on the train. No tissues, nothing. No wonder disease spreads so rapidly today in England no manners or etiquette left. I commented to one female whom sneezed with no protection and all I received was a grunt. Ignorant and illiterate despite an education.
Joshua Goldblum, Grimsby England

Remember Bird Flu? Remember the hysteria built-up around that? Here we go again. Completely over the top reporting and headline grabbing as usual. Anyone who's had it here appears to be showing 'remarkable' signs of recovery considering the "deadly" nature of this flu. We saw a crying mother and child outside a school on the news, worried about the terror about to spread the nation. The Red-Top rags whipped-up their vision of doom. Seen any cancelled big crowd events? No, of course not. That bad then? Still expect any mother who has a child come home to them with so much as a sniffle and it'll be straight to the Max Clifford's...sorry that should read 'Doctor'.
Steven McCue, Glenrothes,Fife,Scotland

The world & media are reacting the way they should! Measured concern is desirable. Hygiene is essential. Precaution by WHO, governments and individuals is a must. We know that it's a blow on the countries' economy and on their citizens but the spread must be contained before it's too late. Let's bear it patiently and intelligently.
Rooma, Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius

Much ado about nothing.
Jarka , Prague

The next time you catch a train consider that statistically about 1 in 60 people on that train will die this year. That might be 5 people on your train and it could even be you. So stop using the trains because some people will die? I think not. This pig flu scare is ridiculous when the chance of getting it is almost nil and the chances of dying from it are even lower.
Neil, Salisbury

"Stop talking about it and give every one a vaccine" Bob, Cambridge

As yet there is no vaccine for Swine Flu. It takes about six months to produce one from the Blood-serum of an infected person

Meanwhile, until the Vaccine is available, those testing positive for the A(H1N1) Virus can be given the anti-viral Tamiflu which is a treatment not an A(H1N1)-specific Vaccine.
Artemesia, Cambridge, UK

Ensuring everyone, especially rush hour commuters, wear masks.

When are we going to get responsible media that report facts and not hysteria?
Sam, UK

If this swine flu is not new, I believe it has been in nature from the beginning of our world, then we have to admit we are losing our body immunising capability to adapt to nature. Medicine, drugs and our living habits have changed our body from nature. The more we live far from nature, the more we will sicken.
Wakilur Rahman, manchester

How to avoid a swine flu pandemic? Stop the sensationalist reporting by irresponsible news media.
Jeff Piper, Stanley, United Kingdom

Everyone who is saying "it was all a media generated panic" needs to take a course in public health. The reason we have preventative measures (such as those that were taken) was so that we could prevent thousands of people from dying. What is the point in starting preventative measures when thousands already have the disease? Would you prefer it were like Hurricane Katrina? "Oh it's just a big storm, there is no need to take any preventative measures before it gets here".

The whole point of preventative measures is so that we can prevent a catastrophe from happening. You should be praising the governments for their work, as oppose to decrying them. Good work people, good work.
Richard White, Wollongong, Australia

If this virus is truly not so virulent at the moment, would it not be better just to catch it and get some immunity in case it emerges, deadlier, in the winter? Whatever - the media itself may be being fed disinformation. Hype or understatement. Who knows? But how ironic if by paying more attention to hygiene, the result was a cut in all infections.
Chrissy, Halifax UK

Booo hoo, a man in Ireland sneezed 15 mins ago, Breaking news! Please, this is a non story, stop trying making it into something it isn't and won't be and start reporting on something important.
lk, london

Even with the slightest chance of getting this complaint, we really are very relaxed in our attitudes to disease.
Borobear, Bristol UK

Stop talking about it and give every one a vaccine.
Bob, Cambridge

How many cases of this flu have we in the UK? 15. 15! We get 15 people an hour go down with the flu in my company in winter.

The people who had 'died' from this flu, have actually died from secondary complications; in part due to the appalling health conditions in Mexico.

The over blown reporting of this is ridiculous. Some chap gets the sniffles and he is filmed on his mobile commenting about his flu like symptoms. Wow, sensational stuff. You know, he might be suffering from a bit of hay fever.

Get real people.

The WHO have cried wolf. The next time they issue another pandemic alert, nobody will believe them.

I reckon it's a conspiracy to take our minds of the recession.
Albert, Wokingham

One should be careful about cleanliness of their surroundings and should eat hygienic food, particularly meats. Also the government should take certain actions regarding this.
Subodh Adhikari, Ktm,Nepal

To what extent is this allegedly possible pandemic connected to the stocks of flu vaccine and the expiry date of that vaccine?
Just a Comment,

I wonder how many children have died from malaria/diarrhea, in the world since the outbreak and hysteria about swine flu.
Bcumulus, Berwick

What I don't get is that at the moment we're at level five, the same level for Spanish flu (1918-1920). So far swine flu has killed say a couple of hundred if you count all the suspected deaths Spanish flu killed millions of people.
Sam, Preston UK

There is no evidence of the swine flu virus spreading in a sustained way outside North America, a top World Health Organization official says. Looks like no pandemic to avoid. Another media generated storm in a tea cup (or is it sneeze in a hanky!)
Steve Thornhill, Hertfordshire

Swine flu has come along at just the right time for us all to forget about MPs' expenses and the failing economy... How convenient!
Daniel Watson, Chelmsford, UK

Very concerned, it seems to me the less animals we eat or mess around with is better for us all
John 4, East Sussex

I don't have any concerns simply because it has been an over reaction to something that is at the end of the day a very bad cold.
Pierre, Lichfield

The real swines wear 3 piece suits and work for the banks. We'll be lucky to get rid of them before they get rid of us.
Carlos Flores, Sr., Canada

Surprise, surprise. Swine flu has turned out to be no worse than "normal flu". So, will the media, including the BBC, now apologise for the mass panic they caused. I have lost a lot of faith in the BBC. vCJD, SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu... I wonder what's going to kill us all next.
Damian, Worthing

With every passing day it becomes clearer that the media and many people here on HYS were in panic mode. Mexico way over-reacted; many of the deaths attributed to swine flu were from nothing of the sort; and this is a very mild virus overall.

Get a grip.
Peter Nelson, boston MA USA

I think WTO's officials and health department of every country must take serious action to control such a dangerous swine flu. If we do not take serious action now it can't be controlled. Many of the countries do not have enough facilities to control this flu. If we go to the rural areas people are not aware about this world flu. I request all the countries to take the action now and show the world's power.....
Chandrakant, Pune India

The pandemic that's really worrying is the hysteria pandemic of governments.
BeppeSapone, Belfast U.K.

Although it is a bit too early to say, this appears to have been handled very well by our government and others. The spread of a virus has been tracked and scientists will have gained insight as to how such viruses spread. Although the virus does not appear to be as severe as first thought, this may be a trial run for when a more serious virus does evolve. Perhaps we are on the way to eliminating flu.
Paul Goddard, London, UK

How can a responsible media like BBC report on overreaction as if it were negative. A vigorous response is the only response to imminent threats. In retrospect we all know the answer to how serious the threat really was, but we always need to assume the worst initially. The Mexican Government did the right thing and deserve praise for not delaying.
K Mack, Beijing China

America is indispensible in solving this problem, regardless of what the haters write and say.
Newenglander, New England, USA

My concern is that everytime the WHO and the media hype a story about an epidemtic or pandemic which turns out not to be the case, that they're creating a "cry wolf" senario. When there REALLY is a serious problem, no one will believe it. Avian flu, SARS, swine flu... stop with the overdramatization of illnesses.
Julie, Chesapeake, Virginia USA

Life today is one crisis or disaster after another. People in all nations panic at every turn. I guess Chicken Little was right. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling". We are becoming a sad and sorry lot.
K Jeffs, Toronto, Canada

Your new headlines is .."Did Mexico Over-React?" ermm answer "NOPE". Like everything else these days the MEDIA over reacted ...we are heading for a "cry wolf" situation...end of.
Maz, Bristol, UK

In Canada we do not take any type of precautions, other than washing our hands after we go to the toilet or whenever we touch another person
Wayne Webster, WPG, MB CANADA

Typical BBC scaremongering, put about by those who have no scientific background; only hype and stupidity. My advice is, if you feel the symptoms of 'flu coming on, which in itself is a rare thing, I get the hottest curry available: either a Vindaloo or Bangalore Phal or even a hot Texas Chilli, if I can't get a curry, and wash it down with a load of ice cold beers and whisky chasers. Feel great, then if you are a BBC wimp? Who cares.
William Johnson-Smith, London, England

I have suspected all along this panic over flu was premature or might even be false alarm. The only case in Hong Kong is a Mexican man who just happened to get sick here. So far, not one other person has come down with the swine flu.
walter, Hong Kong

I live in Mexico City and can say that the media has exaggerated this plus it has been quite inaccurate including the BBC (sorry). Yes, the streets are empty in the centre - of course, everything is closed! I'm sick of that BBC reporter what's-his-name that was here telling us that there is less traffic thus less pollution and so the skies are blue again for the first time. Rubbish! The sky is always magnificently blue in Mexico City and I have 100's of photos to prove it. He must only have been here before in the winter when it's overcast. Just these little untruths become really annoying for the people that live here. Yes, people are worried but not terrified and there's certainly no panic. It's 9:30 PM here, I just went to the chemist and everything is normal apart from some people wearing masks, including myself. We need to follow the news much less these days for some peace of mind. I know my mother back home almost had a stroke from the worry.
Mark, Mexico City

This whole thing has been a media fed frenzy of paranoia and panic. The situation has grown completely out of hand on the back of very little supporting evidence and now (it turns out) those 'in charge' have admitted they may have over-reacted. The problem is that the media love throwing the term Pandemic around in an End Of Days fashion and people hear the word without truly knowing what it means and assume the very worst. I can only hope that perhaps the media (and the BBC as as guilty as everyone else of this) learn something from this whole situation. It's even dafter than the Bird Flu & SARS scares of a couple of years ago. Cancer, AIDS, Malaria (and many others) are the ones we need to worry about and focus on. Where's your media frenzy for them?
Lee, Plymouth, UK

I have suspected all along this panic over flu was premature or might even be false alarm. The only case in Hong Kong is a Mexican man who just happened to get sick here. So far, not one other person has come down with the swine flu.
Walter, Hong Kong

I've said right from the beginning that there was no evidence to support the official panic over this. Politicians used to have more courage and, dare I say it, much better judgement. Some people have died of a new flu variant, and always will - that's the nature of viruses. There is nothing new here to merit action outside countries adjacent to Mexico.
Andrew, Norwich, UK

The official count of 160 cases of swine flu in the US is a gross underestimation in my opinion. In Culver City my uncle started to show flu symptoms. After contacting multiple doctors, pharmacies, emergency rooms, and even the CDC, he was given absolutely no help. He was told that the anti viral drugs are not available, and that he needed to stay at home. How many more people are showing flu symptoms, and not being tested? Why are we being lied to about the amount of help available?
Chris, Huntington Beach, California, USA

According to World Health Organisation the spread of the disease is not as bad as first thought, so pandemic headlines are all wrong. Still usual scare mongering from BBC and government
Tom Smith, Newcastle upon Tyne

I think the WHO and governments have been stupid about how bad they thought this outbreak was going to be. We had the same with SARS and bird flu and both came to nothing, so why should everyone panic and why should the media make everyone panic. Only if the outbreak got really bad should the media let us know how bad it is and what are the consequences of it. But as it looks like that is not going to happen they should let people forget about it and get back to normal lives.
Callum Banks, Telford

England, Scotland and Wales cannot avoid a possible pandemic. Reason, well we live in vastly populated regions, take England as the example, here people only live on about 30 per cent of the country, the rest is uninhabited. The WHO comments of about 40 per cent of people being infected in a pandemic, is short of the mark in my opinion.
Bill Derbyshire, London, England

The situation could turn nasty if it not properly contained. Back in 1918 the Influenza pandemic began around the same time as we see the swine flu pandemic starting now (March to April). It didn't pose as a serious threat as cases were as minimal as we see today. It was only until around October in the same year that cases and fatalities rose sharply (due to the recirculation of contaminated air more common in the winter period when people are indoors for longer). And over the winter period the world saw one of the worst pandemics in recorded history. The only problem is, that I think that we are falling into the same trap of this false sense of security that it dosen't look to bad at the moment. Hopefully the governments of the world will realise this sooner rather than later. I think that all of this media hype is quite necessary, and we should not just shunt the threat to the back of our minds and continue worrying about the current economic climate.
Philip Leonard, Southport Great Britain

Seems to me that every 10 years or so a really new strain of the flu virus comes to the front and all panic. We have survived Asian and Bird flu amongst others so what is the panic about? The only people at risk are those with poor immune systems and those in warm countries where normal winter flu provides immunity. All flu kills so what is new, or are the government about to remove more of our civil liberties and need a diversion.
SnoddersB, Alnwick

Suddenly the world economic crisis doesn't matter, the US torture memos disappeared, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are distant memories... suddenly all we hear about is the swine flu. I'm not concerned about swine flu. I even wonder if it really exists.
Marie, New York, USA

The WHO know what is going on better than all of us and they have a much better understanding of Swine Flu than we do. Experts say that the virus is extremely contagious, the only reason why this is hard to believe is because those people with it in the UK are being treated and are being kept away from other people. If the medical care was not there I am sure that we would have suffered the same effect that Mexico has. Therefore, shouldn't we just trust the professionals? Without this awareness, people would not be taking precautions and would still be flying to many places, including Mexico then many more people would have it! We should be grateful for all the information that we have been given. It is obviously extremely serious, the WHO are not going to exaggerate how serious this actually is. And as for "living our lives in constant fear" (Daniel, Folkestone), I would much rather be scared, take precautions and not get swine flu than live complaining about the media etc and get it.
Debra, London

Please please stop broadcasting so much hype about a flu that is affecting so few people, more people die of ordinary flu. I am sick of hearing about it Typical of BBC to kill a story by continually talking about it.
dataconfusion, Broadstairs

It's flu, now change the record, people die each year from flu here and abroad.
Michael, UK

I am already very aware of how unhygienic many many people are. I have to be aware as my partner had a kidney transplant and her immune system is very low due to anti rejection medication. If we go out for a meal, she is normally ill for a couple of days, going out for a drink is a rare occasion and quite risky. I do the shopping, so she can avoid contact and contamination in public places where there are a lot of people. Going on public transport is not even entertained.

Most public toilets in bars, restaurants, shops and even hospitals are badly designed and are where most people get contaminated with other peoples faeces and urine, as well as other bacterial/germ infested fluids. Doors of all public toilets should open outwards or have Z corridors without doors. It is madness to wash your hands & then get contaminated by others who do not wash their hands, when you open the door to get out. I should think that public toilets are a main area of cross infection for many illnesses & sicknesses/upset stomachs etc.
Iain, Doncaster UK

The way I'm thinking about this "Pandemic" is by NOT thinking about it. There is nothing that WE, the public, can actually do about it apart from taking hygienic precautions. There is no need to worry because if we get it, we get it. We can't just get rid of it and it's just another annual scare we have. Bird flu, Spanish flu, they're all the same. The media, mainly newspapers are blowing the whole "swine flu" out of proportion just to preoccupy ourselves from other crisis' around the world, eg: war and economy.
Emily, Hertfordshire

How can we avoid a pandemic? Well, we obviously need governments with enough spine and guts to shut down travel and borders to prevent disease from spreading. We are lucky it isn't a more deadly virus because we allowed it on every plane, boat, car and rail out of Mexico and it has now travelled the globe because of our inability to say, "People before profit". All we hear is how it would damage the economy. I don't want the people in charge of these matters to consider my health at the same table they consider economics, because the people will lose to profit every time. It's a wake up call.
Gordon, Palmer, Alaska

I'm not worried and I think it is all being over-hyped by the media and government to take our minds off other things. Anyone would think this is the Ebola virus. The way I look at it is you die eventually anyway, so if it's my time, then it's my time. No sense in worrying over it.
Mark, Leigh, Lancs

We can't avoid it but we can control how we manage it. People are more able to cope with flu during the summer and less resistant during the winter. We could therefore elect to have the flu this summer and minimise the effects. Once caught, the body is immune. Goodbye worrying about it too. We could have a national flu week or if that stretched our health resources too much we could elect to have flu weeks by age group.
Bob, Selkirk, Scotland

You can't prevent a pandemic in this age of cheap flights, once the disease has started it can be transported all round the world before the governments even know there is a problem.
Jim Maguire, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Above everything do not take any notice of the media. A revised death toll in Mexico gives a total of 101 deaths. While the whole planet panics over this flu, how many thousands have died in road accidents?

Stop scaremongering! People catch flu all the time and sadly, some of them die. Sending a leaflet on how to wash your hands, to every household in this country, just means another rainforest gone!
Ann-Louisa, Southampton

Knowing that we had the first confirmed case of Swine flu in the UK on Monday, the Government should have said that all 10,000 Brits on holiday in Mexico, who are now flying back early from their holidays, should be made to wear masks through the airport as a precaution, and so as not to spread the virus to all and sundry. Instead the media are stopping them for a chat to get their views! Ridiculous!
Bowdenii, Portsmouth, UK

90,000 people have died of malaria since the outbreak of the swine flu. There is no over-the-counter medication to treat malaria. So, no, I am not at all worried about the swine flu.
Tricia Casper, Pasadena, CA, USA

I think that the only way we can avoid it is by: Wearing masks and Obeying all the doctors and Health Departments are saying. By panicking we are going nowhere. People please calm down!!

We live in what is now the biotechnological age, having advanced beyond the dangers of the nuclear age, into new perils. That means that every new, infectious, illness causing, organism, must be responded to as if it is a deadly threat to human survival as soon as it is detected. We can never be certain whether nature or human actions were the root cause of a new infectious organism, and even though that might be determined later, that question is never a valid basis for deciding what to do in response to infection.
Bob Ezergailis, Hamilton, Canada

It's so over rated. Millions die of normal flu every year and we have like 500 cases and everyone is worried.
Luke, Norwich

I am shocked at some of the comments on here. How can people possibly say that this is just the media causing a panic amongst the 'naive', when it is documented fact that flu can kill millions, and likely will again. Is it not wise to keep the public informed? I'm not panicking but I am certainly concerned (I agree that this government especially would have trouble containing it's spread). If this flu fades away into obscurity like bird flu appears to have, for the time being, we should consider ourselves lucky. However, I suspect it'll just be a great opportunity for the smug to say 'I told you so' to the media and WHO. Oh, and I am a doctor of microbiology, so 'naivety' does not come into it, I'm afraid.
Sam, Nottingham

Surely the sensible thing to do is to not try to contain the current strain of H1N1 as the symptoms are mild and usually not fatal. By allowing the virus to spread around the world, people who contract the virus would have immunity against a much more potent strain which is likely to be going around in the autumn, before a vaccine has been created and effectively distributed? By trying to contain the current strain, governments are storing up a nightmare scenario for later in the year.
Colin L, Falkirk, UK

In all seriousness the "big one" will happen when something like Ebola Zaire jumps on a plane and comes visiting. Even the non weaponised version has a kill rate of approx 80-90% with no cure and no treatment. We had a scare with this a few years in the UK when a plane landed and they thought someone had the disease (luckily it was a false alarm). They isolated him but let the other passengers back out into the main population! Unbelievable.
Max, Chelmsford

Do you mean a swine flu pandemic or a media swine flu pandemic? The former isn't a problem anyway, the way to solve the latter is to stop reporting on it.
Guy, Bristol

I called the NHS direct as my son had been in contact with his boss who had come back from Mexico Sunday last. They were very quick to re-act. They were pretty sure that he did not have the swine flu. They said that he would have to be seen by a doctor. This was at 10.15am. I was called by seldoc four times asking the same questions, and at 3.10pm they called and said he did not need any further attention and they would not send a doctor out. If we are going to contain this we need more commitment from GPS. We are still not sure if he has the virus or not.

This episode has been very interesting in that the media seems to have been completely taken in by the hysteria while the public have not believed a word and have maintained a much more calm and balanced view of the situation. Nobody trusts the media any more, and judging from they way it has reported this flu virus, we're right not to.
James, London

I don't hear much about what the preventive therapeutic measures are for people who are not yet affected. Should they take vitamin c or an inhalation of some type? What type of food to be avoided etc? I think areas affected should be sprayed by a helicopter with some kind of germicide. Even homes should be smoked with some kind of germicide.
Ashok, St Petersburg, FL, USA

And so it begins. The media starts it's inevitable climb down by stating that 'officials' are 'cautiously optimistic' that things may not be as bad as first thought.
Curlone, Portsmouth

When I was a kid my mother worried about illness: smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, polio - all killers. I caught Asian flu in the '57 pandemic and spent a week in bed. Not pleasant but not life threatening if you took care. Anti-virals did not exist. The advice was to keep warm and not go out until the symptoms had gone. No schools or businesses shut down and there were no quarantines. The present outbreak seems much less severe so far. This is flu, which many catch every year. It is not plague, or ebola or typhus. We should not lose our sense of proportion.
David Rushworth, Hemel Hempstead, UK

From what I understand, an infected person is/maybe contagious from day one before they display any symptoms. If this is so, why not take blood samples or whatever from all passengers before they board the airplane. By the time they reach their destination (hopefully, we can know if there are any cases on board before they reach their destination) necessary action may then be taken. It may be a bit of a hassle but its better than sitting on our hands. Also I dunno why closing borders doesn't make sense - if the reason is economics, then I say it's either "a stitch in time saves nine"... or "Penny wise pound foolish".
Jake Chia, Singapore

How many farmers and their families were ruined last time the country over-reacted to a media 'pandemic'? Sensationalist BBC.
Richard, Plymouth

I remember watching a documentary on TV not so long ago, it was about some scientists who decided to exhume the corps of a man who died of the Spanish flu virus pandemic in 1918. I hear now that the SWINE flu virus (H1N1) is the same virus!!! They have the original Spanish flue virus in their hands, in some super safe, high tech lab, (we all hope so anyway), I am asking a simple question; Did this virus escape when they opened the lead lined coffin?
George Georgiou, Cannock, England

Avoid the swine flu by following health safety standards for other diseases. Avoid crowds, air travel, infectious persons and wash hands frequently.
Penny, USA

For now practice quarantine and then stop herding huge numbers of pigs into a small confined space full of their own excrement. And don't allow fowl and humans to live in close proximity to them. Better yet stop eating pork so there is no reason to keep these garbage eaters confined in the first place.
Virginia Orrall, Fredericton, Canada

As long as we don't know how it is being transmitted to one another we should take precautions like staying away from infected people. It's not easy to not to talk and approach people as this is a big part of life, for example shopping, schooling.
Kakule Kiza Celestin, Goma, DRCongo

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific