Last week, I told you that the media was "pigging out" on the Swine Flu pandemic story, and predicted that this particular pig couldn’t deliver the bacon. Naturally, my prediction that this flu scare was all hype was spot on. And now the media outlets that were so gleefully stoking your fears are already working to allay them.
And remember: this is less than one week after some news stories compared this "outbreak" of Swine Flu to the calamitous 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic which killed an estimated 100 million people worldwide.
But don’t think that this is case of a case of "no harm, no foul" by the media. There have been consequences to this useless fire drill. In the scant few days since the media began over-sensationalizing this pint-sized pandemic, the panic spread across the globe.
The virus’s porcine name led some to believe (wrongly) that pigs were spreading a killer disease. In Egypt, as many as 400,000 pigs were needlessly put to death as a preventative measure; the Baghdad Zoo killed 10 wild boars because of flu fears … as if pigs don’t already get enough of a raw deal in Islamic countries.
China, that paragon of food and health safety, banned imports of pork from Mexico, as well as parts of Canada and the U.S. – in spite of the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has continually denied that there’s any evidence that pork consumption could actually spread the disease.
It’s not just China saying "no" to the other white meat: the disease’s name alone has hammered U.S. pork producers as the uninformed (and let’s face it: that’s most people) have dropped pork from their diet entirely. In the current economy, this is a devastating blow to a significant U.S. industry. In spite of the fact that the virus was never even found in American hogs, the media panic has led to a decline in profits.
The impact on pork producers actually prompted the government to try and "re-brand" the virus as the "H1N1 virus" rather than "Swine Flu." But like most government efforts, this has met limited success.
I’m happy that I was right that this "pandemic" was total nonsense. But the media’s propensity to so quickly cry wolf before the facts are in makes you wonder what would happen in a real global health crisis. Let’s hope we never find out.
Swine flu: What not to do
Don’t feel bad if you got sucked in by the Swine Flu mania. Even that dullard of a vice president Joe Biden was whipping people into a frenzy last week by baselessly proclaiming to the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, "I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting [people] ride the subway."
How’s that for change you can believe in?
So while the world takes a deep breath, here are some tips you might want to keep in mind until all this flu business blows over.
1) Go ahead and have that pork chop. In spite of its name, "swine" flu is being spread from person-to-person, not person-to-pig. Eating bacon, ham, hot dogs or any other pork product WILL NOT give you swine flu.
2) Don’t waste your time or a doctor’s time by going to the emergency room. In a situation like this, everyone who sneezes is likely to head straight for the hospital. It overloads the healthcare system and you might catch something from people who are actually sick. Don’t ask for antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza to create your own stash of antibiotics.
3) Don’t panic. Not only will it lead to needless stress … but it’s just what the media wants you to do.