In the strictest sense it is an epedemic - but if you look at the stats, it's no where near as 'bad' as Bird Flu, Aids, and many other diseases. The press always pick up on something like this and exagerrate.
I remember when I was in England there were two major scares:
1) Some kind of flesh eating bacteria - it killed 9 people.....in 5 years (or something like that).
2) Mad Cow's disease - more serious but not as bad as the press made it out to be.
All I can say to all of this is.........Moooooooooo!