Americans anxious over swine flu

Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:57pm EDT
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By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Americans are expressing anxiety about swine flu, and the sale of flu medication and items such as protective face masks are up in some places where cases have been confirmed.

"It's a weird situation right now," said Aaron Armelin, a telecommunications technician in Los Angeles.

"Everyone's a little leery of anyone coughing. Even though the news makes it seem really, really bad, it doesn't seem like it's actually that much of a concern," Armelin added.

Interviews with people around the United States indicated few signs of panic or wholesale changes in behavior due to an outbreak of a new virus that has sickened people in several U.S. states and killed up to 149 people in neighboring Mexico.

Big drug store chain Rite Aid Corp said it had seen a jump in sales of Roche Holding AG's flu drug Tamiflu in New York, California and New Jersey and a national increase in sales of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitizers.

Some stores in the Walgreen drug store chain had sold out of surgical masks and sales were up elsewhere in prescription Tamiflu and hand sanitizers, a spokesman said.

Some people said they were struggling to balance their concern over the virus with what they saw as media exaggeration of the threat.

"People are fairly skeptical about the whole thing. They are just tired of the media that blows things out of proportion," said Ron Ladner, who owns a restaurant in the small town of Pass Christian on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.   Continued...

<p>U.S. residents and tourists wait in line to cross to El Paso, Texas at the international border crossing bridge of Paso del Norte in Ciudad Juarez, April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas</p>