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Opening Arguments

MERS attacks!

Oh, my God, we're all going to die!

NEW YORK (AP) -- Health officials reported Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the United States.

The Illinois man probably picked up an infection from an Indiana man who earlier this month became the first U.S. case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The Illinois man, however, never needed medical treatment and is reported to be feeling well, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

I mean, we're not exactly taling Black Death here, are we? One man sick but feeling better now, a second man not even feeling any effects, and that's it. The disease isn't considered very contagious, and it's not exactly widespread -- about 600 cases worldwide with 175 deaths. But anything new and exotic gets the scare treatment -- remember the great West Nile panic?

Wanna hear about something really scary? It kills about 23,000 tp0 36,000 people a year in this country, depending on the estimating method used. And there are worse years -- 48,614 in 2003-04, 69,800 in 1957. Oh, and 40 to 50 million worldwide in 1918. Yeah, the flu.