Stop laughing at swine flu right this instant: the World Health Organization has just declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years, meaning we're all just one mutation away from devastation:

The long-awaited pandemic decision is scientific confirmation that a new flu virus has emerged and is quickly circling the globe. It will trigger drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine and prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus...
The last pandemic - the Hong Kong flu of 1968 - killed about 1 million people. Ordinary flu kills about 250,000 to 500,000 people each year.

The good thing is that this is really a formality, and everyone's known for weeks now that this flu met the definition of a pandemic. The bad thing is that all it will take is one mutation of this virus that makes it truly deadly to set the world on a path towards another million deaths. And since the media cried wolf so loudly when the flu first hit, and it turned out to be not that bad, now if it does get bad, you can expect a ton of people to ignore the warnings.

We blame the media, whatever the outcome! Drink some orange juice!
[AP, NYT. Pic: Getty]