Apples And Oranges: Swine Flu Versus SARS

History repeats itself, but not without wrinkles. We pick apart the connections:

The Comparison
With the world in a panic over swine flu, it's starting to feel like 2003, when SARS was the raging contagion flooding the news, threatening to wipe out mankind and sending people racing to their local drugstores for cheap masks. Remember: most such masks stop germs only from infecting others; they won't keep you from getting sick.

Why It Works
Both are viruses with respiratory symptoms that humans spread by coughing. In nine months, SARS spread to 29 countries and killed 810 people out of about 8,000 cases. At press time, there were already 615 cases of swine flu in 15 countries and 13 confirmed deaths, with both figures expected to rise fast.

Why It Doesn't
Swine flu looks to be more contagious and threatens to be deadlier than SARS. While both were classified as "epidemics," experts believe swine flu will likely climb to "pandemic" status. Here in the U.S., swine flu has already caused more havoc: more cases in more states, plus 300 school closures to date.