TV anchors can't stop asking the question: "When is it time to start panicking?" How about never? Panic can only lead to stupid actions on a personal and national level that would likely make a pandemic worse.
As worrying as the epidemic has been, keep in mind that only one person so far has died of swine flu outside Mexico. Many scientists are beginning to think that even if we do have a full-fledged pandemic on our hands, it may likely be a mild one. A computer model by researchers at Northwestern University estimated that even if nothing were done to slow the spread of the disease from now on, by the end of May the U.S. would have only about 1,700 cases. The good news is that H1N1 is hitting North America at the tail end of its flu season. It's possible that the virus may peter out and re-appear next autumn, but that gives us months to prepare.
As WHO and CDC officials keep reiterating, influenza is an enigma, and H1N1 will keep evolving, keep changing so we can't predict how the epidemic will progress. But one thing is certain: Panicking will only make the situation worse. "This is a cause for deep concern, but not panic," said President Barack Obama in his April 29 news conference. In the midst of all this anxiety, that's the best advice there is.