When I first read about the swing flu, my first thought was 'Oh dear.' My second thought was, 'Wait a minute.'
The media feeds on whispers of pandemonium like a pig on slop: If it bleeds, it leads. Sensationalize the scandal. Sell the news.
They are in the business, remember, of getting an ever growing audience. And if their reporting style doesn't do it, and their elite snottiness guarantees that, then they've got to entice you with whatever arsenal they have left: fear.
An anxious population tunes in every day, maybe every hour, to hear the newest alert and follow instruction on how to best live their lives. That's the media's drug of choice, no matches, needles, or messiness necessary. Just pure power. What a rush.
For a sector of individuals so opposed to weapons that cause human destruction, they have no problem being one.
So yeah, there's a swine flu. How lucky for all of us we now have a cute little name for a season of coughing, sore throat, fever and headaches. The piggy flu would have been cuter.
But panic isn't the appropriate response. Dread, sure. I always dread flu season. And just getting over the flu, with no cutsy animal name tagged to it, I wouldn't say it's a bag of laughs. It wrecks havoc on your exercise regiment, workload, and nose. But it's always a good time to catch up on your reading, that is, of course, if your fever is low-enough for brain function. Mine was hit and miss.
Here is today's news in the swine garble, something you might want to know:
A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.
Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico - and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.
The typical, humdrum, everyone-gets-it flu that recently kicked my fanny, kills 36,000 people annually in the United States, with 13,000 already since January. And yet we're suppose to freak out about the swine flu?
Here's another soundbite you might find interesting. It will either get buried or explained away or used. As Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Look for massive talks of the dire need for universal health care, or stronger unions, or windfall profit taxes, or government-funded abortions, or (fill in Obama agenda) to come out of this.
As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza -- at least in its current form -- isn't shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.
We have the Vice-President advising his family on national television to stay off planes and subways, pictures of world populations wearing surgical masks, and banners on every station, yet this could be a normal flu season?
The swine flu isn't airborne, either. It's caused by droplets. So stay away from anyone looking suspiciously leaky and eat your vegetables. You knew Mom was right.
When the media says "panic", don't. They get paid to repeat that word over and over and in as many different forms and ways as possible. When this crisis passes, another will be fast on it's heels. I wonder if the media can connect pig flatulence to global warming? Stay tuned.