Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oink, Oink

Dear Media:

I like to think I have a pretty sensitive bull-shit meter. Unfortunately, I also know that not everyone else does. That's probably why your continued fanning of the Swine Flu flames is starting to piss me off. Yes, some people should be concerned. But honestly, there is absolutely no reason for this level of panic.

Newsflash: any strain of the flu virus can kill you. No really. Any strain. The sticking point? It's not going to indiscriminately kill everybody. People who should be concerned? The elderly, parents of small children and those with weakened immune systems because of some other medical condition. Normal, healthy adults? You know, a huge chunk of the U.S. population? Yes, if we get the flu it will blow donkey balls, but it's highly unlikely that we'll end up dead from it.

All people need to do is be smart. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you sneeze and/or cough. If you're sick, stay home from work.

I'm not saying some people shouldn't be worried (see the second paragraph) - but for the love of all that is holy, this kind of mass hysteria is really unnecessary. Or it could just be that I'm cranky because I work for a government agency and they're doing their best to freak us all out as well.

Yours truly,
Little Miss Crabby Pants


Travis Erwin said...

Never underestimate the power of the aporkalypse!

Samanthadelayed said...

Thank you for saying everything that needs to be said! I just want to scream when I watch the nightly news.
The media thrives off of scaring us, how else are they going to get us to tune in everyday? Just give me the facts so I have the knowledge to act responsible and use my common sense!
end of rant.

Tracy said...

I don't watch tv so should be removed from the hysteria...NOT. OMG it's driving me batty! Thank you for saying Miss CP! And I have to say AMEN!

CT said...

Brava, Wendy!

Oh, swine flu. Yesterday I was watching The Today Show, and Ann Curry was interviewing Janet Napolitano about swine flu.

Ann: So how will the public know when this has become a pandemic?
Janet: Now, we don't want anyone to panic. The World Health Organization currently has this outbreak listed as a level 4, and when it's a level 6 it will be a pandemic. [NOTE: Sorry if my terminology is wrong. I am not an epidemiologist, and I'm recounting this from memory.] Until then, we just want everyone to blah, blah, blah.
Ann: Right. But when will the public know that this is something to panic about?

I did a spit-take on that line, because I really thought Ann Curry was better than that.

AbbyT said...

Awesome post. You said exactly what I've been telling people here in Boston. It's nothing to worry about (with certain exceptions).

And to think, at first I was worried that I wasn't as worried as the news made me think I should be.


Leah Braemel said...

I'm not saying that swine flu is as bad, but influenzas can be pandemic. Look at the Spanish flu of 1918. According to this page ( The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice).

Maybe I'm a little more cautious since I live in the Toronto area where we got hit really badly by SARS a few years ago. My husband's company was on lock down when a wife of an employee had SARS (she was a health care worker). Both he and his wife subsequently died. I'd prefer to err on the cautious side, thanks.

Yes, they're over-hyping it, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious either.

joykenn said...

Yeah, I remember when the media discovered shark attacks. You'd think sharks were swimming around in your backyard pool. Actually shark attacks had gone down.

BUT, that said, I'm a medical librarian and sometimes you have to hit people over the head to get them to take sensible precautions. People should definitely take flu seriously--the old fashioned kind, not just the swine kind. They don't and every year about 30,000 people die. Yeah, they are mostly either young or old or sick or with a chronic condition. Since they now think that a variety of swine flu was the villain in the Great Flu Pandemic, public health officials are worried that a new strain like this one could get to be VERY serious even to healthy people. To those of us in the know, it doesn't look like this variety of swine flu, if caught early in healthy people, is much worse than the "regular" flu--which also kills folks. AND, people just kind of ignore that, go to work, don't wash their hands as much as they should, don't .....etc. If you want to get somewhat paranoid and take handwashing, doorknobs, etc. seriously do so. It will cut down on the colds you get if not the flu. Should you go around wearing a mask? I'm not and I work in a hospital. When and if they decide that this strain of swine flu is particularly contagious (which it doesn't appear to be or there would be a lot more cases), I'll wear a WHOLE BODY CONDOM or not go to work. Til then, I clean the keys of the computers every day, wash my hands and use antibacterial hand sanitizer several times a day.

Wendy said...

Travis: ::groan::

Leah: I remember that SARS outbreak in Toronto. The ALA conference was up there that year and a bunch of vendors and librarians ended up bailing out.

A big part of the Spanish flu pandemic was WWI, where it spread among troops living in close quarters. Also, I like to delude myself into thinking that modern medicine has come a long way since 1918. Whether they actually have or not is open to debate.

Good sanitation, good hygiene, healthy adult - I just can't get panicky about the flu. Now MRSA on the other hand. That shit scares the hell out of me.....

Wendy said...

Joy: Exactly! It's amazing how much you can avoid just be doing the basic stuff - like washing your hands. The frenzy seems to be particularly bad here in Cali because, hello? Right on top of Mexico.

Arnold has done his whole "state of emergency" dealie - which is good. It'll make it easier to mobilize the government agencies in the event this thing does morph into the Super Flu.

JenB said...

Amen and hallelujah. Preach it, sista!

Anna said...

You said it girl! They just love to start a panic.

Liza said...

Amen! I really wish the media would stop trying to scare the public.

Kristie (J) said...

I hear you!! Some of the things going on are just way over the top now!!

Shari Anton said...

They closed 4 schools in the Milwaukee area until next Monday because they "think" 1 child and 1 adult "might" have swine flu. Can you say overkill?

Amanda said...

Thank you!

I work in science and the level of hysteria is ridiculous!!!

We are NOT at pandemic level!!!!

Ok getting off the soapbox now LOL

Lil Sis said...

My favorite? During the press conference the CDC and WHO people had to tell people that BACON (or pork products) were not the cause. That they should continue to eat pork products as the swine flu was not caused from eating certain pork products.

Seriously? Are people THAT stupid that they think this is brought on by bacon?? Sigh - I guess I thought people were a wee bit smarter than that.

On the bright side if no one eats bacon then more for me. :)

"Lisa! You'll never eat bacon?" "No" "Ham?" "No." "Pork chops?" "No! Dad that all from the same animal!" "Oh yes, Lisa, a magical animal!" :) Sorry - I love the Simpsons and I feel the same way at Homer about pork. :)

Lori Devoti said...

My kids are both high risk. Because of that, I'm keeping an eye on it and called the school today to make sure they had procedures in place--like putting any students with symptoms somewhere other than the office where my kids have to go to get their meds, but I'm not freaking.
Honestly, in general with any illness people need to be more careful. I think most people never really consider that going out or flying sick could actually have a very serious impact on high risk people. It reminds me of the Agatha Christie novel where the woman had given a pregant woman the measles and cost her, her pregnancy. People just don't think. That said, I also get concerned when healthy people start stockpiling drugs, etc. Hmm, maybe concerned is the wrong word...think something a "tad" stronger. ;-)

Wendy said...

OMG - I love that Simpson's episode. Especially when Lisa wrecks Homer's BBQ. "It's just a little airborne, it's still good, it's still good...."

Lori - OMG, yes! I've been reading about the run on Tamiflu, and it's just getting out of control!

It's sad we have to remind people to think. If you're sick....stay home. Wash your hands. Normal, sensible things that you should ALWAYS do....swine flu or not. Geez.

Kwana said...

I'm with you Miss Crabby Pants. This is making me crazy. Now watching mayor of NY on TV.

limecello said...

Haha - will I get flamed? I have to admit... I was hoping people in the area would panic a bit more. Why? Because someone here has swine flu and was hospitalized. BUT more importantly... I thought the administration should take that into consideration and cancel finals.
I mean, 40-60 people in the same room; in countless rooms all sitting together for 4 hrs at a time is dangerous, right? ;)
Sadly the one professor I tried to convince wouldn't bite. :P Another girl went so far as to say they should cancel the bar exam too.
O:-) One can only hope.
[am slightly amused security word = "exesshor"]

Wendy said...

Lime: You're in law no, you won't get flamed (at least by me!). Hell, it's understandable that you're so punchy :)

Sandy said...

Amen! This swine flu talk is annoying the heck out of me. It's the freaking flu. Last year, my grandfather died from the flu - he was old and in poor health. This flu really isn't that different.

Can we get some stats for how many people caught a non-swine flu this year???

Sandy said...

Okay. I used my magical librarian powers and found some stats (

At this time last year, there were 68 pediatric deaths due to the flu. This year, there have been 55. Granted, it's possible that number could rise and outpace last year's, but please, a little perspective, media people.

Sam said...

A flu bug just hit the entire full-time day staff at the library where I work. You think I would have been protected being back in a separate office away from patrons and the staff, but it got me, too. It wasn't swine flu, but it was one of the worst I've ever had. The high fever lingered over 4days. I actually got my first doctor's excuse note since 1988. A co-worker told me her doc said it was type A or B, but nobody is talking about other types of flu.

Sarah said...

Oh man, my library is going kind of crazy sending out Swine Flu related emails all week. The other day one of the facilities guys came and inspected our work area to make sure we had enough hand sanitizer, wipes to wipe down everything, and other germ killing machines. It's going too crazy. You just need to practice normal hygiene behaviors and you'll be ok people!

joykenn said...

Just had an interesting conversation with one of our lab people. We're a top notch hospital and all the publicity and concern has caused a lot of cases being referred to us for testing. Interesting how the procedures we thought were so well planned out fall somewhat short.

I'm beginning to think this H1N1 flu is going to be a great test of our medical system. Luckily so far it doesn't seem as bad as it was predicted to be (knock on wood, it could mutate at any time). If so we'll find out NOW what we should be doing, like controlling the supply of Tamiflu, washing our hands, etc. I hear the GoJo folks who supply the Purell hand sanitzer can't ship it out fast enough. Good sales year for them!

Gwen said...

This is all I'm going to say on this topic...

Number of people in the US who died last year of flu or flu complications: 37,000

Number of people in the US who have died of the H1N1 virus so far this year: 1

Perspective, Media, perspective.

I'm hating the 24-hour news cycle. It's driven so much mania and panic on so many issues, not to mention apathy about the less sexy, but no less important ones.

B.B.I.L. said...

Wake me up if they start calling it Captain Trips.

Wendy said...

LOLOLOLOLOL - Captain Trips! For those of you who don't know - that's the name of the killer flu in The Stand by Stephen King.

I am soooo glad I'm in administration and not out at the branch anymore. I can only imagine what it's been like to reassure the public during all of this.