Bird flu: Shame on ABC

A high percentage of Americans today tend to believe most of what they see on television, particularly when it is presented as “news.” Case in point: bird flu. The news media have hyped the threat of an avian flu pandemic in the U.S. beyond any resemblance to scientific reality. They have been and are creating anxiety and fear in Americans by repeatedly presenting this “news” to gullible, uncritical viewers.

Now, as if this weren’t bad enough, ABC plans to air a made-for-tv disaster movie — “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” — during the May ratings sweeps. Shades of Orson Welles! Shame on ABC. This is fear-mongering of the worst kind and totally irresponsible. Pander to panic and hope to profit via ratings and advertising income.

Those concerned about bird flu should get their facts directly from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. The facts are that since January 2004, when bird flu first appeared, there have been just 113 laboratory-confirmed bird flu deaths reported to WHO. That’s 113 deaths worldwide. By comparison, according to CDC estimates, 36,000 people die annually in the U.S. alone from “regular” flu. “Regular” flu is transmissable from human to human; bird flu is not and may never be.

A little perspective chills the bird flu hype, doesn’t it?

Don’t be duped. If you are concerned about bird flu, or any other news story, look behind the headlines. Get the facts from some reliable sources. Make sure your information is correct. Don’t trust the media to do it for you.



Categories: Health

Tags: ,

6 replies

  1. Hi 30~

    Geeze, we really are linked aren’t we?

    I’m not sure exactly what your looking for as far as “credentials.” The WHO and CDC only track numbers basically, and do not post the whole situation that is now occuring in Indonesia, Egypt, and China. If that’s what your looking for, than no, they are not “credentials.” That is why WHO and CDC are not a source of information to find out news from the hot zones. They are used for statics and pandemic alert phase, which is currently at 3. WHO ans CDC are a good source for death totals, suspect bf patients, but by no means a complete picture of the situation.

    As far as I know, there isn’t any one source that has the “credentials.” The closest to this is the flu community, aka as the flu forums. Flu forums are not strictly H5N1 talk. Preparing for disasters(natural or man made) is one of our main priorities.

    There has been a breakthrough with the Health Minister of Indonesia, and WHO, in that Indonesia has been hold back genetic H5N1 samples for a year now, and they have finally agreed to release those samples. We eagerly await to see if they do. We need to see those sequences to see where the virus is at genetically. Here’s one story from Friday about this:
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_MED_BIRD_FLU_NEW_DATABASE_ASOL-?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2008-05-14-23-10-18

    I hope I’ve answered your question. I’ve tried to the best of my knowledge. If you have any questions I don’t mind answering them.

    Have a good evening
    cottontop

    ________________
    Hey, cottontop, thanks for stopping by again. At the time I posted this, I was concerned about the U.S. media making it sound like an avian flu pandemic here (U.S.) was imminent, when it had not even been confirmed that humans were infecting one another. That link you provided is an eye-opener. I’m appalled that WHO or any other organization would not freely share data about a virus that could mutate into a worldwide pandemic. People are dying while researchers guard their intellectual property rights. Is there nothing the almighty dollar can’t buy?

  2. sheshh… you’ve got to get a grip on reality.
    China just poured close to $2 million into WHO on top of another 9 mill last year. They installed a Chinese national as head of WHO and you think the info they release is timely and accurate of events unfolding on the ground in H5N1 hotspots? They’ve got everything to gain from a severe pandemic.

    You’ve got to be kidding.
    Better go buy some food to store away for that coming rainy …. 3 months.

    _____________
    Cut me some slack, Goju. I posted this two years ago (before the Chinese actions you cite). It was intended as commentary on mainstream media’s handling of the subject. I have some experience with editing, publishing, and reporting of studies, and based on that, I was not happy with the way the story was being presented to the American public. I’m not a flu researcher. There were only about 100 confirmed reported cases worldwide then, and none with proven human-to-human transmission. I hadn’t thought about bird flu since then, until cottontop came by.

    BTW, I’m curious, what’s the rainy 3 months about?

    5/19/2008: Yes, the head of WHO is Chinese, but she was appointed by the World Health Assembly, made up of delegations from 193 countries. I don’t trust the Chinese, but how does this constitute a conspiracy, and how does anyone benefit from allowing a pandemic?

  3. Alright Goju, behave. Look, the point to me posting that on my blog was to get people to realize just how much has happened, and how bad it’s gotten. There is no need to panic people if information is handed out in a creative and proper fashion. Every household needs to have some sort of emergency stock. Disasters happen all the time. Pandemic is no exception. Just as we don’t know when the next emergency or disaster will happen, we don’t know when the next pandemic will happen.

    People are great at saying this or that “can’t” happen, and when it does, their left with their foot in their mouth, scrambling to find something to take care of their family with. where does the responsibility lie with the average citizen? To wait until government says to do something, or take matters into your own hands, because you know it’s the right thing to do? I’ve got news for everyone reading this: Government will not take care of you. Your neightbors will not take care of you. Your family and friends will not take care of you. What are you going to do?

    There is no harm in preparing your family for any kind of emergency/disaster that will happen. It’s survival insurance. Get some!!

    Survival insurance: 10$ a week on emergency food and water. Every household can afford that. Over time, you’ll have a good supply of food and water. But start now.

  4. BTW 30, I will agree with you on how the media does a lousy job with H5N1. I have always maintained (perhaps rather blindly) that they can be instrumental in people taking this seriously, and just emergency prepping in general.
    _______________
    I would never argue against disaster preparation in the face of genuine threats. But a total of 400+ confirmed cases of H5N1 in humans worldwide is hardly an imminent threat, especially when none of those has been confirmed as human-to-human contact. To date, the primary cause/source of the disease appears to be infected chickens. That’s where control needs to start.

    If one insists on more alarming numbers, there’s reportedly a 1 in 3 chance that the virus MIGHT mutate into a form transmissible from human to human. If and when it does, THEN we’re talking possible pandemic. We’re not there yet and may never be.

    Meantime, the FDA approved a preliminary bird flu vaccine a year ago, and Glaxo has just received the go-ahead to market its new bird flu vaccine in Europe.

    All of this puts bird flu WAY down on my list of things to worry about.

Trackbacks

  1. Bird flu? Fear mongers! « Pandemic Flu Central
  2. Two-year-old post on avian influenza sparks new attention « Pied Type

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke

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