Media hype of swine flu overblown?

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, May 2, 2009

Last Thursday I had to attend a meeting in Athens. This meant about four hours in the car commuting between Ironton and the mother ship. Meeting attendance really ranks high on my list of things to do.

Actually I’m just joking as one of my favorite sayings is: “meetings are where minutes are taken and hours are lost.” But after all isn’t this how we get things done even in these tough economic times? Meet. Meet. Meet.

Normally I try to tune in sports talk radio and today the radio wave gods blessed my drive.

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It must be my car radio or the valleys and hollows that frequently distort my reception but the moons and planets were perfectly aligned today. The reception was loud and clear. But the message was repetitive and annoying.

Swine flu this! Swine flu that! This topic was hammered home by all. Every station break drove this concept home. That evil bug was lurking around every corner and judging by the commentary it was going to invade my car. According to these talking heads it was everywhere.

I’m positive that this mantra being preached by media personalities is being readily accepted and believed by a major portion of the listening audience.

But hey wait a minute! They have 24 hours of air time to fill so they dribble on.

It’s my belief that the play the consumer media is giving the outbreak of influenza in Mexico and elsewhere is leading to panic and overreaction.

It’s my take that the reality of this situation is being overblown and over hyped.

Hopefully it is much less worrisome than some folks want us to believe. Let’s wait and see whether this outbreak grows or is an isolated issue that’s been blown out of proportion. Currently the media and vice presidential hype is a detriment to everyone. Especially the millions of workers and businesses that earn their livings from the travel industry.

In spite of the health crisis resulting from the swine flu (H1N1 influenza) detected in Mexico as well as the travel alerts issued by the U.S. and other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not contemplate the closing of borders or restrictions of trips.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending that people “avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico,” but at no moment have they enforced a ban on travel to that country. Health authorities are suggesting that tourists should follow the recommendations provided by the Ministry of Health and international health authorities in order to prevent the infection and spread of the virus.

“Flu” season arrives just about every year and these mini epidemics force many local schools to modify schedules or even close down until the crisis subsides. There are reportedly 100 cases out of a population of over 300 million people. To me that is a pretty insignificant sample size.

Media people please give it a rest. Move on and find another bone to chew on.