Cartoon by Dave Granlund of Massachusetts published 01 May 2009.
This cartoon criticizes the news coverage (la couverture médiatique) of the swine flu. The cartoonist wants to say that the media is hyping the story. In other words, they are creating interest and intensifying the situation by being overly dramatic. To hype also means the lots of use of advertising and other publicity to influence or interest people. The verb can also be followed by the preposition up. For example:
The movie has been so hyped up that it was a bit of a disappointment when I eventually saw it.
This word is also used as an adjective:
the much-hyped swine flu
As a noun, hype means the use of excessive publicity:
the hype surrounding the murder trial
In this cartoon by Drew Sheneman of The Newark Star Ledger in New Jersey published on 28 April 2009, the cartoonist is criticizing the hype as being deliberate or misleading in order to distract from the economic crisis.
To be scared senseless is a common expression to describe someone who is so afraid that they no longer know what to do.