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.