Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/28/web_2_flu/

Pig plague 2.0: Can't spell 'pandemic' without 'panic'

If you can read this you're not dead, yet

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 28th April 2009 10:59 GMT

The internet has responded to the absolutely positively inevitable pandemic of swine flu with typical restraint and a decent sense of proportion, providing everything from context-sensitive maps to an iPhone application for those preparing to flee for the hills.

The irksome fact that the majority of people who contract the new H1N1 flu strain get a bit peaky and then recover provides no reason not to panic, and Web 2.0 is ready to provide you with up-to-the second updates in case you're starting to get relaxed about the whole issue.

iPhone owners can head over to SwineFlu for aggregated content, after a few sponsors' adverts, but the rest of us don't need to feel left out: the US Center for Disease Control has set up a Twitter feed that already has almost 30,000 followers. Across Twitter there are now more than 10,000 tweets an hour on the imminent viral apocalypse, so clearly it’s a breaking subject.

Those seeking more than 140 characters on the subject can turn to Google Maps tracking of infections, with colour-coded pins to indicate confirmed and suspected cases. A significant proportion of the latter seem to be fatal, though that shouldn't be a surprise as flu is often fatal for the elderly, and even kills the healthy when combined with other diseases. Google's Flu Trends doesn't report any significant change in US infections - but that doesn't support the need for immediate panic, so is best ignored.

Equally restrained is the World Health Organisation, which isn't recommending closing international borders or even boarding up the windows, which is all rather disappointing.

Luckily, Wikipedia provides a table of infections by country, helpfully including those from probably-unrelated "influenza-like" infections. Unfortunately, the "attributed deaths" column contains an awful lot of zeros, for the moment at least.

Here in the El Reg bunker with our satellite feed we fear the worst, and so would like to take this opportunity to thank all our remaining readers for their years of loyal support and promise to provide whatever scant comfort we can. But we won't. We've got far more important hedonistic matters to attend to - our time is precious, you know. ®