May 02 2009

Swine Flu and Chicken Little – Too Much Hype?

After a week of hearing that the sky is falling because swine flu was going to take us all down, there’s a lot of second guessing about whether government(s) and the media have over-hyped the potential for a pandemic, and whether we have all over-reacted to the fear.

chickenlittle1I say – we have not overreacted — but I worry about Chicken Little.

The initial reports from Mexico indicated real potential for problems.  Governments, WHO and the media were in a d*mned if they do and d*mned if they don’t position:  Had they NOT reacted, then I guarantee you, the flu would have spread faster, further and more people would have died.  Then they would have taken the hit for not reacting appropriately– like George Bush deservedly did for Katrina — and we would all be left behind cleaning up behind the mess.

So I believe the reaction and the hype, and the reminders about the impact seasonal flu has on all of us, are warranted. I, for one, appreciate it.  Lives have been saved.  Awareness has been heightened.

That said…

I actually have more concern about the next time around. Whatever virus mutates, whether it be bird flu, swine flu, or hippopotamus flu — no matter which one it is — will we all be (pardon the pun) immune to the hype?  Will we ignore the governments and media who try to prepare us to keep us safe?  Will we go about our daily business tuning them out?  Will we turn a deaf ear because “remember swine flu?  no big deal!”

Chicken Little (who may be carrying bird flu, by the way) reminded us that the sky CAN fall when we don’t pay attention.  So the real point is that we need to be prepared with falling-sky contingency plans.  That’s what WHO does.  That’s what governments do.  That’s what media reports.

We just need to be sure we pay attention and take action, regardless of how hype-y it seems to be.

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1 comment

  1. Whether or not we overreacted to the swine flu in my mind depends on who the “we” is. In the more first world countries, I believe that besides some of the media hype, the correct actions were taken. However, I wrote in the Wellescent Health Blog about Swine Flu Insanity because of the actions of some nations banning pork imports or slaughtering all the pigs in the country as a “precautionary” measure. These actions have some fairly nasty impacts on large numbers of people.

    Some governments have taken the “opportunity” offered by the situation to promote previous political agendas so it is important to define just who was handling the situation in a responsible manner.

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