Birds_3 Okay. Everyone take a deep breath. The made-for-TV movie that aired on ABC last night about the bird flu is just a movie. It's fictional. So relax.

In case you remain in ignorant bliss, I'm referring to the monumental flap that is cropping up among our state and local health officials over a fictionalized account of the bird flu hitting America. The made-for-TV movie, "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America," shows striking images of neighborhoods quarantined behind barbed wire, armed mobs looking to commandeer scarce antiviral medicine and a running ticker across the bottom of the screen tallying deaths in the tens of millions.

These--still fictional--images are causing concern among health officials that they may cause a bit of panic in viewers. So to counter the panic some states, like North Carolina and Pennsylvania, even set up hotlines to take calls during and after the movie last night. They are also directing people to Web sites that deal with pandemic preparedness.

To help put things in perspective, let's get a few facts straight.

The avian flu has not reached the United States. Not a single case has been detected here in a bird or a human. And though about 200 people worldwide have contracted the virus since 1997--of which a 100 have died--it has not yet morphed into a strain that can pass easily from human to human.

So on that note, I'm glad our state and local officials are taking this opportunity to inform the public.

But get real, we have far more likely threats on the horizon. Hurricane season, anyone? I'm just hoping that if and when the real thing hits, our health officials will be just as prepared to deal with the real panic and threat.

Photo via flickr, from photo's of m.